'Undervalued, underpaid and overworked': Why home care workers are quitting in droves

Home care is one of the fastest growing jobs in the U.S., but low pay, lack of benefits and discrimination are leading to high turnover rates, according to Vox.

Five things to know:

1. The U.S. is expected to add 1.2 million new home care jobs by 2026, a 41 percent increase from the number of jobs in 2016.

2. Increased demand for home care is due in part to the aging population. Over 19 million Americans will be 85 or older by 2050. Many of these older Americans prefer home care to nursing homes, with 80 percent over the age of 50 saying they would rather live at home with a caregiver. Federal and state governments have also made it easier to stay at home in recent years: Medicaid spends $82 billion per year to fund personal care.

3. Despite the high demand, home care work has some of the highest turnover rates in the country. Some agencies have 100 percent turnover, and 50 percent is considered good, according to Bill Dombi, president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice.

4. Several factors contribute to the high turnover rates. For one, live-in caregivers do not qualify for overtime pay, minimum wage or other labor protections under federal law. Most do not have benefits and are not always protected from racial discrimination or sexual harassment.

"It's a really crummy job," Adrienne Smith, director and CEO of New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition, told Vox. "They are undervalued, underpaid and overworked."

5. Home care workers' low pay may be due in part to demographics, according to economists. Eighty-seven percent of home caregivers are women, 60 percent are people of color, 52 percent have a high school diploma or less and 51 percent receive some form of public assistance, such as food stamps or Medicaid. Each of these groups is generally lower paid compared to the general population. 

To learn more about the problems facing home care workers, click here.

Editor's note: This article was updated Aug. 23 at 9:40 a.m.

More articles on post-acute care:
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Patients at high risk in transition from hospital to long-term care, study finds

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