Last week, the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging hosted a virtual hearing “21st Century Caregiving: Supporting Workers, Family Caregivers, Seniors and People with Disabilities.” The hearing featured four testimonies from frontline caregivers and those who have received personal care. One of the top issues facing the home care industry is the growing demand for home care services. For example, 3.5 million people currently receive home and community-based services through the Medicaid program, and by the year 2050 the 65+ population will double.
Brittany Williams, from SEIU, said, “Caregiving isn't just a job for me. It’s in my genes. Care is essential and home care workers are the maintainers of life, but it is labeled as unskilled, women’s work.” She also stressed the importance of changing the narrative that home care is just a job, when it should be a sustainable career.
Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), Ranking Member of the Committee, said, “Coming out of the pandemic, the direct care workforce is being celebrated in a way that we’ve never celebrated them before.” Home care is in the spotlight like never before and we need to keep this momentum going. The funds provided for HCBS in the American Jobs Plan will be a crucial step in the right direction for the industry to continue to manage the growing demand, create a better care economy, and also support our essential workers with livable wages and the ability to invest in themselves and their communities.
Additionally, according to PHI data “the long-term care sector is expected to add a further 1.3 million direct care jobs, primarily personal care aide positions, from 2018 to 2028—more new jobs than any other occupation in the U.S. economy.” The testimonies highlighted the need for $400 billion to be dedicated to expanding home and community based services in the American Jobs Plan. Those funds would create nearly 800,000 new care jobs and provide $40 billion for American families. One speaker made the important point that caregiving is work that cannot be outsourced or automated, while another noted that “our country needs a care wake up call.”