Crain’s New York, Aug 11, 2020

The New York Caring Majority is calling for an expansion of home care to keep seniors out of nursing homes, especially in light of the Covid-19 crisis.

Members of the advocacy group testified about the need during the second round of the state Legislature’s nursing home hearings.

“The state should be prioritizing access to home – and community-based services as the answer to the tragic deaths in facilities during the pandemic,” said Meghan Parker, who testified on behalf of the New York Association on Independent Living. “The state should increase wages significantly for home care workers to ensure people have access to home care and are not unnecessarily institutionalized.”

Gail Myers, deputy director of the New York Statewide Senior Action Council, echoed those sentiments. She said in a statement that the home care sector is facing inadequate funding for staff, Covid-19 tests and personal protective equipment, in addition to a worker shortage for all clients regardless of payer source.

Ilana Berger, co-director of the Caring Majority, has said that investing in the home care workforce is more critical now than ever.

new report Berger co-authored found that during the 10-year period from 2016 to 2026, there will be more than 64,000 job openings for home health and personal care aides in the Hudson Valley. The figure exemplifies the home care worker shortage facing the region and the state due to longstanding difficulties attracting and retaining workers, the report’s authors recently told Crain’s. The aging population—coupled with virus-induced concerns about entering nursing homes and other congregate facilities—is expected to make matters worse.

“New York’s aging population is growing rapidly, our nursing homes are overwhelmed, and immunocompromised New Yorkers will be at home until a coronavirus vaccine is widely available,” Berger said in a statement issued Monday as the state’s nursing home hearings continued.

“Care workers are severely underpaid for the critical work they provide—pushing workers into other professions and forcing seniors into unsafe nursing homes,” she said. “If the state wants to provide seniors and people with disabilities with quality care, we must invest in home care—now.” —Jennifer Henderson

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