DAYTON — The Home Care Workforce Shortage Crisis was the focus of a roundtable discussion conducted by the Area Agency on Aging, PSA 2, on Nov. 15 at the Business Solutions Center in Dayton. Solutions to this crisis supported by PSA 2, the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging (o4a) and Agencies throughout the state advocate increasing provider reimbursement rates by 50% to help provide a living wage for home care workers. Everyone impacted and/or interested are asked to contact their legislator as reimbursement rates are considered in the upcoming state budget.
All discussion pointed to the need for solutions to help the approximately 600 older adults going without care in the agency’s nine-county region. The impact this shortage has on multiple levels was illustrated by speakers who are care recipients, care managers, home care businesses and paid caregivers. Representatives also spoke from the Ohio Department of Aging, the Ohio Department of Medicaid, the Business Solutions Center, the Area Agency on Aging and the o4a. Area Agencies on Aging throughout the state are hosting similar roundtables addressing the shortage for their region and statewide.
“Older adults unable to acquire timely assistance to remain in their homes are more likely to either enter a nursing facility or go without home help at all, which can hasten safety and health concerns toward faster decline,” said PSA 2 Executive Director Douglas McGarry.
The home care workforce shortage has existed for years but greatly accelerated during the pandemic, cutting one home care business’ staff in half. The staffing shortage is attributed to wage competition against what fast food and retail work pays, plus a low state reimbursement rate to home health care provider agencies that limits what these employers can offer.
Speaking on the statewide and regional challenges were Jenny Carlson, assistant director for the Ohio Department of Aging; Jesse Wyatt, bureau chief of Long Term Services and Support for the Ohio Department of Medicaid; Area Agency on Aging, PSA 2 Executive Director McGarry and Assistant Director Nicole Khaner. Speaking from the Business Solutions Center with input on employee recruitment and training were Marvene Mitchell-Cook, director of workforce development; Susan Hines Warren, workforce development supervisor; and Karla Creel, youth career services manager.
Attending from Legislative Offices were Amy Piner and Joanne White representing Montgomery County Commissioners Deborah Lieberman and Judy Dodge respectively; Angie Harrah and Maggie Ward representing Congressman Mike Turner’s office; and Madeline Castle, legislative aide for State Representative Jena Powell. Also attending was Beth Kowalczyk, chief policy officer for the o4a.
The Area Agency on Aging, PSA 2, is one of 12 Area Agencies on Aging in Ohio and part of a 670-member nationwide network. The Area Agency on Aging, PSA 2 helps older and disabled adults of west central Ohio remain in their homes with independence and dignity. The agency is an independent, private, nonprofit corporation that plans and funds services for older persons in Champaign, Clark, Darke, Greene, Logan, Miami, Montgomery, Preble and Shelby counties.