In the healthcare industry, home health care services, according to a study by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), will experience an annual growth rate of nearly 5% from 2014-2024, the highest among all industries. This translates into 760,400 new jobs. Employment will rise from 1.26 million in 2014 to 2.02 million in 2024 for all occupations in the home health care industry, says the BLS. This includes home health aides and personal care aides as well as a wide range of healthcare professionals, particularly registered nurses but also physician assistants, nurse practitioners, a variety of therapists and other allied practitioners, as well as many clinical management roles.
Part of the reason for the growth in the home care sector is the aging of America. The number of people 65 and older in the United States is expected to increase to 55 million in 2020, to some 70 million by 2030, and to 88.5 million — or 20% of the population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. What’s more, the number of people age 85 and older — who often require additional caregiving and support — will increase from about 14% of the older population today to 21% in 2050. Equally important is that 87% of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they age, according to AARP’s report, “What is Livable? Community Preferences of Older Adults.” Among people age 50 to 64, 71% of people want to age in place.
Essential for the home health care industry to meet this increased demand is to be able to find the qualified and interested individuals needed to fill the jobs required. For para professionals – home health aides and personal care aides – this is challenging for the industry for a number of reasons. Most home care workers are women with a median age of 45 whose job is to provide assistance to patients with activities of daily living, including eating, dressing, bathing, housekeeping chores and medical management. Their wages have not kept up with inflation and two-thirds of employees work either part-time or part of the year. As a result, the median annual income for these home care workers is $13,300. In order to attract more people to the field, wages and benefits need to improve.
In terms of meeting the demand for professionals in home health care, competition for registered nurses (RNs) will be particularly acute. The BLS estimates that 1.2 million vacancies will emerge for registered nurses between 2014 and 2022, affecting hospital and home health care settings. Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado, and Maryland, according to a study released earlier this year by the Georgetown University School of Nursing & Health Studies, are among the states to be greatly affected by the RN shortage in home care. Moreover, according to Home Health Care News, restricted practice laws could exacerbate the RN shortage in certain states, such as California, because these regulations put limitations on the types of services that can be provided by RNs who have become nurse practitioners (NPs). Home health organizations such as the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) have pushed for nurses to be more empowered, including through federal laws that would enable NPs and advanced practice nurses to sign Medicare home health plans of care.
To effectively recruit and retain RNs in home care, agencies and providers will need to implement a strong recruitment strategy today and into the future.
Of course, with staffing challenges come increased liability risks, including exposures related to professional liability, workers comp and employment liability, which is why it’s so important to have solid hiring and HR practices in place.
RPS specializes in insuring entities that fall under Allied Healthcare, including home health care agencies. We can help you place a broad spectrum of coverages for clients, including General Liability and Professional Liability insurance.