Home care is essential for many disabled, elderly, and chronically ill people who need assistance with daily living. In-home care also helps people with special needs maintain some independence and continue living in their communities. However, despite the crucial nature of this service, there are currently not enough home care workers to fulfill the demand for care in Minnesota.
Recipients of home health care often experience dangerous gaps in service due to absent or unavailable caregivers. The majority of home health agencies undergo significant turnover and employ mostly part-time personal care assistants (PCAs). Many PCAs work part-time for as few as 10 or 20 hours per week.
It needs to be easier for PCAs who want to work more hours to do so. But it is also essential to give workers the option of providing in-home supportive services on a part-time basis, and open the door for more qualified, passionate people to join the industry.
Often, wage increases for home care jobs are suggested as the solution to the problem. While important and deserved in a tough industry with risks of stress and injury, the impact of increased wages would be limited by the following factors:
- Reimbursement rates for services set by the state limit how much home care agencies can pay workers and still remain in business.
- The expected raises of approximately $2/hour would not be a sufficient incentive to retain PCAs in caregiver jobs.
- Most caregivers are not in it for the money, but for the personal fulfillment brought by helping someone in need.
So how will we meet Minnesota’s demand for home care? Through a more creative and innovative answer that builds on the last bulleted factor.
We should stop treating caregiving like it is just another career, and recognize it for what it really is: a vocation for supportive, compassionate people who desire rewarding work.
The home care industry would be hard-pressed to attract new workers to the field with promises of riches and career advancement, but we can offer the happiness that comes from giving one’s time to people who need help.
Companies like Uber and Lyft revolutionized the transportation industry by leveraging the convenience and ease of a smartphone application to make drivers out of people who would never be traditional taxi drivers. An app that connects people who are not currently working as PCAs – but who have a desire to provide care – with recipients in need can help to alleviate the home care worker shortage.
The PCA On Demand mobile application connects home care recipients with caregivers directly and remotely, allowing them to “self staff” immediately when they need a caregiver.
This works to fully utilize the existing PCA workforce by eliminating enrollment barriers and providing an easy, convenient way for recipients and caregivers to connect instantly. Recipients can use the app to search for a caregiver using set criteria or browse through a list of PCAs. Caregivers can create a profile, accept shifts, and receive driving directions using PCA On Demand. Like Uber, this app helps with billing and scheduling to make it as simple as possible to provide part-time, tailored services for those who want to help but may have a full-time job elsewhere.
The team at Best Home Care is passionate about supporting personal care assistants and those who benefit from their services. The PCA On Demand mobile application is one of many ways we work to elevate the industry. For more information about home care services, please contact us.
 Minnesota Department of Human Services’ 2014-2015 Gap Analysis