UW Policy Brief Finds Dramatic Increase in Future Demand for Home Care Aides

According to a 2011 policy brief by the University of Washington, titled: “Home Care Aides in Washington State: Current Supply and Future Demand,” the number of Home Care Aides (HCAs) Washington state needs to care for Medicaid consumers alone will increase 56% over the next 20 years.

The data illustrates impacts of an aging population and increased need for long-term care. Key findings in the policy brief include:

  • More than 50,000 HCAs estimated to provide home care for Medicaid consumers in 2010, and even more HCAs serve other populations.
  • By 2030, nearly 77,000 HCAs are estimated are needed to serve Medicaid consumers.
  • Action needed to recruit and retain more HCAs to meet future demands.
  • As the number of Americans in need of long-term care rises from 13 million in 2000 to 27 million in 2050—an increase of over 100%—the federal occupational category called “personal and home care aides” will grow .4%
  • Washington State’s overall population is expected to grow by 45% between 2000 and 2030, the 65 and older population will increase by 151%.
  • If the number of Medicaid consumers receiving home, community-based services from HCAs increases at the same rate as the general population, there will be 56% more Medicaid consumers in 2030 compared with 2010, greatly increasing demand for HCAs.

HCAs provide complex support to people with disabilities and older adults in such activities of daily living as cooking, cleaning, dressing, grooming, taking medications, and transferring into- and out-of-beds. According to the brief, higher training standards will help to stabilize the workforce and build a career pathway for HCAs.

The policy brief was written by the University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies through funding from SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership.

The brief says:
Washington’s new training standards will help HCAs develop skills that meet the complex needs of the consumers they serve.

Traditionally, HCAs have faced low wages, few or unaffordable benefits, poor opportunities for advancement, insufficient training, and lack of respect. These factors cause the home care industry to experience high rates of turnover, reducing the continuity of services provided to many consumers and increasing the amount of orientation and training required for new employees.

Studies show that high-quality training increases job satisfaction and can be an effective way to retain HCAs so that consumers can experience more consistent, reliable care. Effective training of HCAs also improves the quality of life of the increasing number of consumers with complex needs.

Charissa Raynor, Executive Director of the SEIU Healthcare NW Training Partnership, says the findings highlight the importance of quality training for workers. “As this report shows, a better trained and more stable workforce leads to better quality care for consumers and ultimately a career ladder for workers.”

The report complements a December 2010 report from SEIU 775 called “Who Cares: A Portrait of Washington State Home Care Workers,” which showed tens of thousands of home care workers struggling on the edge of poverty.