By 2020, 56 million Americans will be aged 65 or older and by 2050, that number will reach 84 million. According to the National Coalition on Aging, 70% of aging Americans will not be able to care for themselves at some point without assistance. 9 out of 10 folks want to stay at home where they feel secure and safe. Today, we have an average of three family members to one aging parent, however, with younger families having fewer children, a problem arises. In addition, it is predicted that by 2050 the average distance between family members will grow to 280 miles from a parent over the age of 60. This is where home care fills the gaps between the continuum of health care choices so that aging in place is a viable option. As the population ages, the shortage of caregivers rises. This poses a massive dilemma for home care agencies that require staff to care for the consumer.

Today’s candidates seeking employment can be very selective as to where they want to work and interview. Employers are having to incentivize workers to work. Sadly, many of the candidates hired by home care agencies do what is called “ghosting”: they show up for orientation and training, work a d day or two, or perhaps even a few weeks, but then disappear like a ghost. Many times, caregivers jump from agency to agency for more hours or a higher rate of pay with no courtesy of notice to the previous employer. Hospitals, home health, and rehabilitations clinics are all competing for the same pool of workers, yet all lose valuable candidates weekly to giant companies like Amazon. The costs for a small business owner here in Illinois are high. Besides the basic operational costs, there are strict regulatory, legislative, and state mandated requirements for hiring and training of caregivers.

Since home care regulation is relatively new, educating both the consumer and caregivers on the do’s and don’ts can be quite the challenge. When using home care, an official and legally binding contract is signed between both parties. In an effort to get “value for their hard-earned dollars” and since home care is mostly privately paid, many families run into trouble walking the line between professionally trained and hired caregivers. In the home settings, home care agencies, by law, must have contracts in place to protect the worker, the consumer, and the agency itself. The primary role of caregivers in the home is to maintain the safety of the client. Many family members ask caregivers to perform duties that do not fall under the caregiver scope of practice like setting up medicines, glucose monitoring, or even chores that overreach the description of light housekeeping. One example that comes to mind is “to polish the silver or to walk the family dog three times a day”. It may seem like not much to ask, but the caregiver’s priority of keeping the client safe cannot be fulfilled through these tasks. Then, when caregivers request not to return to a client home the families frequently blame the agency and wonder why. Often times, it is the extra consistent requests on the caregiver beyond their care plan in place that drives them to quit or simply ghost! All the above and many more obstacles come into play with caregivers in the home setting due to families not following the care plan they contributed to or misunderstanding of the limitations that laws provide for caregivers in the home setting. All home care agencies in Illinois are equal opportunity employers and families requesting a caregiver without an access is often unreasonable and close to impossible to staff.

In summary, home care helps to fill the gaps in caring for our sick, frail, and elderly. The goal for caregivers and families alike is to be more knowledgeable about the laws and guidelines surrounding licensure for an agency in the home care setting, in addition to being aware of the types of services that are offered and delivered. Once this is accomplished, families will have a clear understanding of the caregiver’s role and professional boundaries in the homecare setting. This will enable agencies and families to engage in improved customer service and the reduction of turnover it the healthcare industrry If you would like more information on Home care please contact us at or visit us online at . We are happy to send you information via e-mail. We can send you a copy of Caring for Americans: “The Value of Home Care” from the National Coalition of Aging and the Home Care Association of America.