About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.

What is the top challenge facing in-home care in your city, and what is your proposed solution?

Essay response by Jasmine, Alexis, Duke University

As a young girl, I can remember after dinner, my mother would go to her bedroom to get dressed for work. She would walk out of her room in her white scrub top, pants and shoes. I thought she look amazing. My mother worked at a nursing home as a certified nurse assistant (CNA). Once we were older, my mother decided that she wanted to try her hand at being a home health aide; she would still work with the elderly but would provide care at their home.

My mother knew that she could always find a client to work with because we lived in a place where there was a large elderly population. We live in the “Sunshine State”, better known as Florida. Florida has one of the highest numbers of senior citizens in the United States. One reason for that is that Florida is a great place to retire. There are beaches and plenty of great weather year round for the retirees to enjoy. In Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it seemed like every new neighbor moving in was sixty-five and older.

But even in Fort Lauderdale, my mother found it hard to remain in the home healthcare industry. Her biggest compliment has been that the job is physically and emotionally demanding with little pay.

As defined on the Senior Advisor website, “in-home care or home healthcare is care provided to a senior citizen by a caregiving professional. They receive help with their activities of daily living (ADL’s).” The home health aide might have to help their clients take a bath, brush their hair and teeth, get dress, help with prepare meals, etc. The home health aide ensures that the client can remain living at home while sustaining and maintaining a person’s quality of life. The job may be demanding but it can be extremely rewarding because the aides are working those who truly need help. But this does not mean a reasonable salary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, home health aides earn a median salary of $20,820, or around $10 per hour. And oftentimes, there is little that an agency can do in regards to the salary of a home health aide. According to the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, a majority of the funding for home healthcare comes from government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. There are federal and state Medicare reimbursement system, which means that states can determine the pay rate. For most agencies, their pay rates are determined based on what they get reimbursed from Medicaid.

A solution to this problem would be to find ways to provide better pay. One way is provide opportunities for home health aides to receive additional training. The extra training can mean more specialties for the home health aide, which can equal more pay. Second, home health aides need to ensure that their agency they work at is covered under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This Act guarantees that not only do the home health aides receive the national minimum wage and get overtime protections. This can ensure that employees get the compensation that they are entitled to.

I believe that home health aides provide amazing patient-centered care but their workload is quite demanding. It only seems right that they are provided with a quality job, which includes a reasonable salary.

About Jasmine

Jasmine is pursuing an Accelerated Bachelor of Science degree in the Nursing Program at Duke University.

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