Addressing the Growing Need for a Home Care Workforce

By | August 15, 2023

In the evolving healthcare landscape, delivering appropriate care at the right time and location is paramount. However, one important model of care, very often overlooked, is the home care workforce. With the increasing demand for home services, it’s essential to acknowledge the significance of caregivers who provide services in the home.

While physicians, nurses, and professional clinicians receive considerable attention, the home care workforce deserves some long overdue recognition. And with clinical models and patient needs continuing to evolve making room for models of care that allow more services to be delivered at home, the need for a different type of clinician becomes apparent. One who serves as both caregiver and companion.

A recent article by Kreider et al. in Health Affairs highlights the growing Medicaid population, increased Home Care Based Services payments, and the lack of a workforce to meet the demand. Home-based care workers might require a different level of training than other care workers, but their services are critical to the success of shifting care models.

Many home-based care workers, including family members, are currently under-compensated for their invaluable services. To solve this problem, a shift towards recognizing the value they bring and compensating them accordingly is essential. Given that home care is a more cost-effective care delivery location, reallocating funds to provide higher wages could be a viable solution.

Supporting those delivering home-based services is vital. Hospital-based care managers can play a significant role at the time of discharge and in providing routine follow-up through phone calls, texts, or video chats. Furthermore, innovative companies are also stepping up to provide much-needed support to this expanding workforce.

The skills necessary for home-based care are distinct and focused. Community colleges are a great environment to provide the required training, as they are well-equipped to educate skilled workers. Leveraging their education model will help prepare caregivers with the necessary expertise to excel in their roles.

To ensure that healthcare remains consumer-centric and cost-effective, it’s imperative to simultaneously develop the home care workforce. By addressing the issues surrounding the shortage of home care workers, we can elevate our ability to deliver care differently and better meet the needs of those we serve.

The importance of the home care workforce cannot be understated. As healthcare evolves, so must our approach to caregiving. By acknowledging the value these workers bring and providing them with the necessary support and training, we can overcome shortages and enhance the quality of care delivered. Embracing a multi-pronged approach will benefit the caregivers and improve the overall healthcare system by focusing on being consumer-centric and providing care in a more cost-effective environment.