The demand in healthcare for registered nurses has been well documented by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) as well as the American Nurses Association among others. Less commonly thought of is the current and likely chronic shortage of home health aides. It is estimated that the demand for home health aides will grow 38% between 2014-2024 (significantly faster than average).
As the Baby Boomer population grows old, more home health aides will be needed; an estimated 630,000 more aides by 2024. Rising costs and demands for nursing homes and hospitals makes home health care even more appealing to the average older adult. Many organizations question whether there will be enough workforce to care for the elderly population as one in four home care providers has a job vacancy rate above 20%.
Many factors contribute to the shortage of home health aides in the United States. According to Bruce Darling, executive director at the Center for Disability Rights, home health aides should not be low-paying jobs. The person who makes your burger shouldn’t make the same amount of money as the person who operates a ventilator or feeding tube, Darling adds. The median pay for a home health aide is around $10 an hour, or $22,600 annually. Other employers outside of healthcare can offer higher paying jobs without the physical and emotional demands required of a home health aide. An average day for a home health aide could include:
- Assisting clients with activities of daily living (bathing or dressing)
- Giving medications or checking vital signs
- Helping around the house (laundry or meal prep)
- Arrange and plan for life events like doctors’ appointments
- Help the clients partake in community and social events
- Shop for groceries and prepare meals for patients