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SURVEY: Consumers Want Home Care Workers’ Job Quality Improved

September 12, 2012

Consumers believe that their home care workers should have better-quality jobs, according to a report published this month by the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.

The Consumer Voice surveyed more than 200 home care consumers in compiling the report, entitled Consumer Perspectives on Quality Home Care (pdf).

The report shows that many surveyed respondents — 87 percent of whom were age 51 or older — reported that their workers truly made a positive difference in their lives, and that they considered them to be part of the family.

Throughout the report, home care workers are consistently praised for their dedication and for the excellent care they provide.

“A rewarding element of this project was hearing from consumers and their many, many wonderful stories of dedicated workers who provide quality care and who frequently go above and beyond in their duties,” the report states.

“We are best friends, more like sisters,” one consumer said of her relationship with her home care worker. “I can’t think of how we could be any closer.”

Better Wages, Deeper Relationships

Some respondents expressed concern for their workers’ wages. One said that “low levels of pay for the night workers [cause] lots of turnover in workers that I have had over the years.”

“The Consumer Voice survey highlights our country’s desperate need to improve overall job quality for home care workers,” PHI President Jodi Sturgeon said. “That means ensuring that these workers earn a living wage and have plenty of opportunities to advance within their home care careers.

“Attracting talented and dedicated workers to the field of home care is vitally important as the Baby Boomer generation enters retirement age,” Sturgeon said.

The report found that consumers also want a greater role in choosing their workers, and that they should be allowed to dictate how personal their relationship with workers can be.

“It’s really a problem that workers are encouraged to NOT form a bond with the consumer, as that special bond is what makes for good care; it’s also unrealistic,” a consumer said.

Recommendations Made

Respondents overwhelmingly expressed a preference for home care over institutional care, saying they would do “anything possible” to receive care in their own homes and communities.

Based on that preference, the Consumer Voice recommends six steps that policymakers can take to help strengthen home care throughout the country:

  • Enact policies that increase training, wages and benefits for home care workers
  • Require that consumers have the right to choose their workers and schedules for care and services
  • Ensure adequate, continued funding of critical programs like Medicare and Medicaid
  • Make home and community-based services a mandated Medicaid service
  • Carry out background checks on all home health workers
  • Support home care ombudsman demonstrations

– by Matthew Ozga

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