An increasing number of older adults are choosing to age in their homes rather than in nursing homes or other institutionalized settings. With the population aging, there are too few home care aides and nursing assistants to care for older adults in their communities. But, in August the D.C. Circuit upheld a new Obama Administration Labor Department regulation providing home care workers minimum wage and overtime protections, which should encourage more people to enter these professions.
Nursing assistants and home care aides help older adults bathe, dress, transfer from their beds to a wheelchair or walker, use the toilet and eat. They also talk to patients about their health care needs and may report concerns to nurses. They sometimes take people’s blood pressure and temperature as well. Some are trained to give patients their medicines. Many of the people they care for are chronically ill, disabled or cognitively impaired.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2012 the median pay for nursing assistants was $11.73 an hour or $24,400 a year. And, there were 1,534,400 jobs. Home care aides had even lower hourly wages of $10.25 and average yearly earnings of $20,820. There were 875,000 of these jobs. Training for these jobs is limited at best.
The new Obama Administration Labor Department rule designed to provide 2 million home care workers better pay was set to go into effect in 29 states in January 2015 but then was challenged. Those states did not have a minimum wage law that applied to these workers because they did not consider Medicaid payments to be wages. These workers are now eligible for the $7.25 hourly minimum wage, as they already were in 21 other states, as well as overtime pay.
In the 10-year period between 2012 and 2022, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 21 percent average growth rate for nursing assistants and a 48 percent growth for home care aides, as compared to 11 percent average growth rate for all jobs.
An increasing percentage of people will be over 65 in the coming years, and about 70 percent of them will require long-term care services and supports. Eleven million people needed paid long-term care services in 2013.
Here are three tips for planning for long-term care services and supports, including questions to consider regarding long-term care insurance. Keep in mind that Medicare only covers limited home care and skilled nursing care under certain conditions.
Until now, home care aides, like babysitters, were not eligible under federal law for overtime pay and not covered under labor rules.