Field Notes: Improving Job Quality for Caregivers

An aging population has raised employment projections for the home health care sector, but are these jobs any good?

2016-06-08 16_40_41-Field Notes_ Improving Job Quality for Caregivers _ Heron Foundation

The Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, a Heron grantee, published a report on the need to improve job quality in the rapidly growing home healthcare industry. Nursing assistants tend to some of the most vulnerable people in society, yet they themselves are marginalized by employers. The study highlights the working conditions facing 650,000 certified nursing assistants, finding that a third of them rely on public benefits in order to support their family. Caregivers are faced with declining wages, unpredictable hours, high injury rates, and fewer benefits resulting in high turn-over rates and low quality care.

The key to delivering quality person-centered services is a skilled, committed direct-care workforce. Yet as a result of low pay, as well as insufficient staffing levels, inadequate training, and limited on-the-job support, nursing home employers can neither recruit nor retain qualified nursing assistants. [I]t is becoming increasingly difficult to fill vacant positions.

In addition, the home healtchare workforce is largely gendered as 91 percent of nursing assistants are female and "the majority (53 percent) are African American, Latino, or other racial/ethnic minorities."

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