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BRIEF: Advanced Roles for Direct-Care Workers Should Be Explored

September 4, 2014

The creation of an advanced direct-care worker role for home care workers could help improve care quality while also leading to cost savings, according to an Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA) brief.

“The Alliance believes that with the appropriate training, supervision, and support, some home care workers can play an enhanced role, with more responsibility for improving safety and quality of care for older adults and their family caregivers,” the brief states.

The brief draws its conclusion from a series of roundtable discussions, held from 2010 to 2013, in which representatives from the direct-care, nursing, social work, and physician workforces explored the idea of advanced roles for direct-care workers.

The discussions highlighted several areas that need to be addressed to ensure the success of the advanced direct-care worker role, including:

  • Ongoing support and appropriate supervision,
  • Training specifically tailored to the elevated duties of an advanced direct-care worker, and
  • The need to improve communication within interdisciplinary care teams.

An advanced role would improve the quality of the direct-care workforce by establishing a career ladder for home care workers, thereby providing an incentive to remain on the job. Lowered turnover rates would result in cost savings for employers, the brief says.

Improved worker retention would also ensure that the home care workforce is “able to provide supports and services that improve quality and continuity of care for the consumer while reducing burdens on family caregivers,” the brief says.

The brief concludes that demonstration projects should be conducted to test the viability of the advanced direct-care worker concept.

“The future cost and quality of healthcare will be determined in part by whether we have a well-trained, coordinated workforce,” the brief notes.

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— by Matthew Ozga

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