New Hampshire is Experiencing a Caregiver Crisis
Why is this happening? It is a tragic intersection of conditions that needs to change.
There is no denying that we live in a beautiful, picturesque New England state. However, behind the doors of hundreds, if not thousands of residents you will find an ugly reality. People in need of life-sustaining care at home are being neglected even though the state is mandated to provide access to that care. Across the state there are older adults and persons with disabilities going without meals, bathing, social contact and, tragically, dying by themselves. The system is broken.
Caregivers have been undervalued, providing essential support as an invisible army despite poor-quality jobs characterized by low compensation, insufficient training, and limited career paths.
Workers can go to McDonalds, Walmart, Market Basket and receive a higher wage.
This is the heart of the Care Paradox.
Who Does This Affect?
Everyone. A Caregiver Shortage means that no one remains untouched: You cannot assume that when you age, get ill or become disabled by an accident that in-home care will be available to you or within your reach. If you need nursing home-level care, be prepared to pay an average of $7,756 per month for a semi-private room. This presents a significant financial burden that many are simply not prepared for.
An alternative is to pay for private care in your home, which can cost hundreds of dollars a day. If that is out of reach for you, you may qualify for care through the NH Choices for Independence (CFI) program. CFI is a New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services program for adults 18 years or older who have nursing home level of care needs but prefer to live at home and financially eligible for long term care Medicaid.
In a 2021 survey conducted by the NH Fiscal Policy Institute (NHFPI), every single case management agency in NH indicated that an individual might not receive CFI services because there are not enough available workers to meet the overall need for services or available workers at the times when services are needed.
A lack of services and caregivers would significantly impact people like Maureen, Robert, and Lainie.
In-Home Care Recipient
While it is a misconception, many think that it is only older persons who are served by in-home care agencies. At Ascentria 55% of our clients are under the age of 70 with the youngest age 19.
Maureen was just 22 years old when she suffered a spinal cord injury from a car accident that changed her life forever. After her injury, she spent four long months in rehab relearning how to complete daily living activities such as dressing herself, going to the bathroom and pushing a wheelchair up inclines so she could function when she went home.
In-Home Care Recipient
When you think of the type of person who works at a police and fire station, you envision someone who spends their life caring about the well-being of others. That is exactly who Robert is.
Sadly, now that Robert needs to be cared for, the system is failing him. One day, he was pushing his body more than he should have by shoveling the walkway after a storm when he stopped breathing. After emergency personnel revived him, Robert fell into a coma for 30 days followed by extensive rehabilitation therapies.
Personal Care Service Provider (PCSP)
Like so many across the country, Lainie was a caregiver to some of her family members for years.
As a PCSP Lainie spends her day assisting her clients with tasks like medication reminders, physical therapy exercises , and more.
Lainie has been doing this work for nine years and has watched agencies close causing more and more people going without care. “It’s overwhelming. People are struggling to get basic care and the help just isn’t there.”
Have You Been Impacted by the Caregiver Shortage?
Why Should You Care?
Thousands of NH residents are in desperate need of care in their homes.
The number of people 85 years and older is expected to nearly double by 2035 (from 6.5 million to 11.8 million).
About 599,800 openings for home health and personal care aides are projected each year, on average, over the decade.
Despite the fact that caregivers do some of the most challenging work humans can be asked to do; caring for the sick, the elderly, the disabled and the dying, we pay them less than nearly all other professions- the median annual wage for home health and personal care aides was $29,430 in May 2021.
Increase awareness of the perilous state of the caregiving economy to a level where every US citizen over the age of 30 is aware and has an expectation that the legislators and the private sector will work to solve the challenge.
Increase the Number of Caregivers
Reverse the decline of people entering the caregiving workforce and ensure that supply equals demand for the benefit of those that need care, families forced to pause their lives to become caregivers, and our economy.
Increase Caregiver Pay
Increase the perceived value and get the pay of caregivers to a level where caregivers are paid a fair hourly wage, along with the benefits that come with high value employment.