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National Experts on Home Care Workforce Release New Analysis on Minnesota's Long-Term Care Gap

January 4, 2013

— PHI issues recommendations for ensuring sufficient workforce for quality care of elders and people with disabilities —

Saint Paul, MN — Minnesota's long-term care system faces a looming workforce crisis and a "care gap" of thousands of direct-care workers over the course of the decade, according to a report released today by the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), the nation's leading authority on the direct-care workforce.

In "Home Care at a Crossroads, Minnesota's Impending Long-Term Care Gap" (pdf), PHI researchers report that while home care worker positions are projected to account for more than 10 percent of the new jobs expected in Minnesota over the next 10 years, the core labor pool from which the state's direct-care workers are traditionally drawn — women aged 25-54 — is expected to decline by nearly 2,000 workers.

"Due to the poor quality of direct-care jobs, Minnesota faces the challenge of making these jobs competitive so that enough people will be attracted to this work to meet increased demand," said Gail MacInnes, PHI National Policy Analyst. "Uncompetitive wages, part-time work, and a lack of employment-sponsored health insurance coverage are all barriers to establishing a stable home care workforce in Minnesota."

The researchers also found that Minnesota's direct-care workers are predominantly female, middle-aged, employed less than full-time, and living near poverty. More than a quarter of Minnesota direct-care workers receive coverage through a public insurance program, such as MinnesotaCare, and more than 40 percent of Minnesota's direct-care workers live in households that rely on some form of public assistance, such as food stamps or Medicaid.

"Home care workers are vital to my family," said Rochelle Turan, a Minnesota mother of two boys with disabilities. "One of my sons has severe autism and needs someone to shadow him 24 hours a day to keep him safe and care for him. I couldn't do it alone, especially when my husband is at work. Home care workers help ensure I can keep my family at home, rather than an institution."

"These are serious problems for our long-term care system, and they are only going to become more severe if we do not address them now," said State Representative Tina Liebling. "We need to invest in quality jobs for our direct-care workforce by finding a way to increase wages, benefits, and advancement opportunities; building a workforce infrastructure to support and monitor these jobs; and promoting training and credentialing."

The PHI report also includes additional research findings on Minnesota's rapidly growing demand for home care services as the population ages and older Minnesotans and younger people with disabilities desire to remain at home. Policy recommendations to promote a sufficient workforce to provide quality long-term care and improve the efficacy of Minnesota's home care industry are also included in the report.

The study reported in "Home Care at a Crossroads, Minnesota's Impending Long-Term Care Gap" (pdf) was made possible with financial support from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

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PHI, the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, works to transform eldercare and disability services, fostering dignity, respect, and independence — for all who receive care, and all who provide it. The nation's leading authority on the direct-care workforce, PHI promotes quality direct-care jobs as the foundation for quality care.

Deane Beebe, PHI Media Relations Director

646-285-1039; dbeebe@phinational.org

Kate Brickman, SEIU Media Relations Coordinator

612-460-1219; kbrickman@seiumn.org

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