Developing a Strong Direct Care Workforce
The aging population of the United States has led to a need for more direct care workers to provide personal care to older adults and disabled people in their homes. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of paraprofessionals in home care will grow 49% between 2012 and 2022 as the baby boomer generation ages and requires more assistance in activities of daily living. The typical direct care worker is a female aged 25 to 54 years old, a demographic that is projected to remain flat in the coming years. Direct care workers typically are poorly paid for work that is labor-intensive and often work in less than optimal working conditions. It is important that agencies hiring direct care workers understand the challenges these workers face and institute sound hiring practices and provide proper training and ongoing supervision. It is possible to have a quality direct care team. Proper training, role modeling, and supervision will improve employee satisfaction, decrease turnover, and improve care outcomes for patients.