Survey paints stark picture of direct-care industry in N.H.

The need for direct-care givers in New Hampshire is being outstripped by the supply — and the situation will only become worse as the population of the state ages.

That’s the conclusion of yet another study of the state’s direct-care landscape, this one by the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire.

The Carsey report, “Home Care Workers: Keeping Granite Staters in Their Homes as They Age,” was written by Kristin Smith, a family demographer at the institute. Released Sept. 14, it was conducted in partnership with a survey conducted by the New Hampshire Coalition for the Direct Care Workforce. The coalition, in conjunction with the New Hampshire Institute for Health Policy and Practice and the Institute on Disability at UNH, made policy recommendations in a white paper.

According to the report, “direct care givers” are those who provide hands-on care for older adults and those with disabilities.

The reports results “call us all to the table to reduce existing barriers to support and expand this field,” said Nick Toumpas, commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, which has staff members serving on the coalition.

Statistics in the report from the coalition survey paint a stark picture:

• The median hourly wage for home-care workers in New Hampshire was $10 in 2008, compared to the median hourly wage for all New Hampshire workers of $16.48 in 2007 and $17.25 in 2008.
“There is some variation depending on position,” Smith told NHBR. “For example, licensed nursing assistants make about $11.77 per hour, whereas homemakers make less than $9 per hour.”
• Some 29 percent of home-care workers in New Hampshire typically work full-time hours for their home-care agency. By cobbling together part-time jobs, 46 percent attain full-time hours, but they lack benefits and face a wage disadvantage compared to those who have full-time hours at their home care agency.
“There are number of other reasons where part-time positions are more prevalent,” said Smith. “Some workers may only want to work part-time. Others are taking care of a family member or a friend, and are getting paid by an agency, but do not want to care for strangers. Some clients only need 20 hours of care per week.”
• Very few home-care workers receive paid time off; in fact, 67 percent have no paid leave of any kind. Full-time workers are twice as likely to have paid leave as part-time workers.
• One-third of home-care workers in New Hampshire lack health insurance, primarily because it is too expensive for the employees to obtain.
There are about 2,790 employees in the “Home Health Aides” category, according to the May 2008 report by the state Economic and Labor Market Information Bureau. By 2016, the category is expected to increase by 1,300 positions — a growth of 59 percent.
To view a copy of “Home Care Workers: Keeping Granite Staters in Their Homes as They Age,” visit — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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