Spectrum News: “As Nursing Homes are Scrutinized, New York State Grapples with a Lingering Home Care Shortage”

In a recent report on home health aide shortages in the COVID-19 pandemic, Spectrum News cites HCA data on the financial and workforce stresses facing home care and hospice.

“Hundreds of thousands of individuals and their families rely on the home care system for care and support,” anchor Susan Arbetter writes, citing compensation issues tied to Medicaid reimbursement and other recruitment and retention factors.

“Twenty-nine percent of home health agencies use lines of credit or borrow to meet operating expenses,” she adds. “These are the very agencies that are expected to recruit, train, retain and supervise thousands of home health care aides,” citing HCA statistics that “turnover among some groups is as high as 58 percent.”

The report adds: “Again, the HCANYS report was released before the worst of the pandemic in the U.S, back in December,” and new data reveals that this longstanding problem is fundamentally exacerbated by the pandemic where HCA has separately reported double-digit percentage declines in workforce capacity at various stages of the public health emergency, imperiling access to care.

Authorization of Virtual Aide Training Programs is a Priority

These findings support our call for state Department of Health approval of virtual aide training programs, and the Department just yesterday announced guidelines and procedures along these lines (see our September 29 alert to HCA members announcing this development here).

A virtual component to the aide training curriculum is vital at a time when social distancing and safety precautions are limiting the capacity of in-person programs by as much as half or more, worsening existing staff shortages.

Similar to the proposals advanced by HCA and association partners, the Department is permitting a hybrid model which would allow online instruction for the didactic portion and in-person instruction and assessment for the supervised practical training. HCA will be working with our association partners and the Department to ensure a smooth process and timely approval determinations for aide training programs to move forward with online implementation.

To learn more, please contact HCA’s Director for Public Policy and Advocacy Alyssa Lovelace at alovelace@hcanys.org.