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REPORT: Role of Immigrant Home Health Workers Examined

February 19, 2015

Most immigrant home health workers in the U.S. are married or living with their partner, have some college education, and are over age 45, according to a LeadingAge report published in January.

The report, entitled “With Help from Afar,” uses data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention‘s 2007 National Home Health Aide Survey to capture a demographic breakdown of the country’s immigrant home health workers.

Specifically, the analysis found that:

  • 57.4 percent are older than 45
  • 54.2 percent are married or live with their partner
  • 51.1 percent had at least some college education
  • 56.3 percent said their primary language was English

Only 16.8 percent self-identified as white. More than one-fifth (21.8 percent) said they had experienced on-the-job discrimination or language-related communication barriers.

The report goes on to briefly outline the U.S.’s immigration policy, and suggests policy reforms designed to encourage a larger pool of immigrant home health workers, which will be necessary as the aging population in the U.S. continues to skyrocket.

Among those reforms is Senate Bill 744, a comprehensive immigration reform bill which would create a pathway to citizenship for as estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants. (The bill passed the then Democratic-controlled Senate in 2013 but is unlikely to reach President Obama‘s desk in the current legislative climate, observers say.)

The authors — Natasha Bryant and Robyn Stone of LeadingAge and Janet P. Sutton of Social and Scientific Systems — further recommend that home health employers “create more culturally diverse work environments by strengthening training programs and workplace policies to better accommodate language and cultural differences.”

— by Matthew Ozga

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