Considerable news coverage revolving around the home care industry tends to be focused on more metropolitan areas. Major cities where the population can be numbered in the millions has a tendency to garner the most attention when it comes to health care of any kind.
Yet, in rural America, elderly and disabled adults require the same level of care and often have the same desires to remain home as opposed to heading into a facility for treatment or long-term care.
For example, in the Adirondacks, there is a home health care shortage that’s grappling the region as it has in many other parts of the country. As the population in America ages, the need for home health care providers will continue to increase, not only in these larger cities and suburban regions, but also in the more rural communities.
According to the Times Union article, Desperate need for home health aides in Adirondacks, written by Adam Federman:
“Whatever is happening today in 2019, if you look at the aging demographic, particularly here in the Adirondacks, the number of people who are going to need home care is only going to increase,” said Donna Beal, executive director of Mercy Care for the Adirondacks, a nonprofit in Lake Placid that trains “friendship volunteers” to work with seniors. “Whatever problem we have today, unless there’s a solution, is going to get much, much worse.”
Home health aides provide a range of services from basic personal care, including housekeeping and cooking or grocery shopping, to more advanced support for clients who need assistance bathing and using the toilet.
Some of the challenges that these rural Americans may face when it comes to accessing in-home care may involve relatively low reimbursement rates from Medicaid. For those dependent on Medicaid for coverage, a home care agency operating in a less populated region will require their caregivers to drive further and more often to reach clients.
If Medicaid is only cutting reimbursement rates for home care rather than increasing it (which is has done since 2010), and at the same time the government is increasing minimum wage requirements (placing more pressure on smaller agencies), it leads to less desire for companies to serve these more rural regions.
The home care industry, as a whole, stands at a crossroads. As the aging population of the United States continues to increase, demand for in-home care services also increases. Finding ways to better serve those aging and disabled individuals in more rural regions of the country will provide the companies that figure out a sustainable way to do it significant potential.
It will also provide necessary care and support to those who need it most.