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Senate Briefing: Rethinking the Role of Home Care Workers in Care Coordination

March 7, 2012

On March 1, PHI President Steven Dawson (right) addressed an audience of over 100 home care stakeholders — employers, worker advocates, consumer organizations, Congressional aides, and Department of Health and Human Services staff — who had gathered to consider the role of home care workers in new models of care coordination.

Dawson argued that home care aides, because of their daily role in clients’ lives and their relationships with family members, have a crucial role to play on care teams:

We all can debate differing definitions of “care coordination,” but what we should agree on is that any successful design will require the rapid flow of accurate information — so that the right services can be provided to the client, by the right person, in a timely manner….

And so, from the perspective of home-based care coordination, the role of the aide becomes plainly visible — not in isolation, but as an essential actor within the care coordination model. No other paid member of the care system is present in the home on a regular basis, to notice changes in condition over time; no other paid member has the same type of daily relationship of trust with the client and family members; no other member holds such intimate knowledge of what is “really” happening in the home.

Discussing the benefits and the challenges, Dawson ended optimistically, noting there is a real opportunity today, with the move away from fee-for-service models to capitated payments, to create more valued roles for home care aides. Rather than define one such role, he called for “a thousand experiments to bloom.”

Read Dawson’s full remarks here (pdf).

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