Pennsylvania Home Care Recipients Advocate for Better Access to Home Care

 Pennsylvania ranks seventh in the nation for the percent of its population that is 65 years of age or older1. As Baby Boomers continue to age and the population of older adults needing long-term care increases, the need for caregivers will continue to increase as well. Since COVID shined a light on major drawbacks of congregate living facilities like nursing homes and institutions, it is not just the elderly population that are choosing to be cared for at home. This is great news for the hundreds of thousands of individuals and families who prefer to age at home rather than in a facility. However, it also poses a major problem: there aren’t enough caregivers to take care of the current Pennsylvania population at home let alone the 29% growth that will occur by 2028, leaving a shortage of 73,000 home health aides2. This is due in large part to low state funding for Medicaid programs like Pennsylvania’s Personal Assistance Services (PAS) that cares for medically fragile individuals.

Stephen Hoppy from Luzerne County, PA with his home health aides

This is where our advocates come in. Home care recipients across the Commonwealth have banded together to help alleviate this growing caregiver shortage. Advocates like Stephen Hoppy from Luzerne County, PA are speaking out and helping raise awareness of the inadequate state funding. Stephen is approved for 20 hours per day of care from the PAS program, but since he cannot find enough caregivers to cover all those hours, he has been paying $500 per week out of his own pocket to help secure that coverage. Recently, Stephen was interviewed by FOX56 News about how the caregiver shortage has affected him.

“I am advocating because our healthcare system is compromised. There are plenty of people worse off than me that can’t get home care, which is unacceptable. These home health aides are medical professionals, and they need to be paid for their expertise and knowledge,” says Stephen.

COVID has only exacerbated this issue, with a mass exodus of health care workers no longer willing to risk their lives for a career that yields an average of only $12.40/hour. BAYADA Home Health Care has had to deny 40% of PAS cases in 2020 and 2021 because there were not enough caregivers to staff the cases. Teri Henning, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA), says she’s hearing similar numbers from PAS providers across the board. “They simply cannot compete for the workforce,” she says. “Home health aides can earn more money doing similar work in other state home care programs, or in nursing homes, or even doing less physically- and emotionally-demanding work at Amazon, Target, or in fast food.”

“BAYADA Home Health Care has had to deny 40% of PAS cases in 2020 and 2021 because there were not enough caregivers to staff the cases.”

Pittsburgh resident, Maria Kolat with son Matthew

Home care advocate and mother, Maria, from Pittsburgh has also joined Hearts for Home Care’s advocacy efforts after experiencing these issues firsthand with her 22-year-old son, Matthew, who is developmentally disabled and requires non-stop supervision. Since COVID, their lives have dramatically changed—his schooling, his ability to receive psychological and medical care and—very significantly—his family’s ability to access the home health aide (HHA) care that Matthew needs and is qualified to receive. Maria and Matthew were featured on Pittsburgh’s local KDKA 2CBS station advocating on behalf of home health aides.

“Aides are leaving the caregiving field to work at big retail like Walmart and Amazon—or in fast food,” says Maria. “They can make $15 an hour or more there. When we see a revolving door of aides, Matthew can’t get the one-on-one care he needs, which puts him at risk.”

Home care advocates like Stephen and Maria give life to our advocacy efforts ─ their real-life experiences aren’t just numbers and statistics, but genuine struggles that thousands of Pennsylvanians endure every single day. They help tell the story so that legislators and influencers can fully grasp how their decisions are affecting their constituents and communities.

Home care advocates like Stephen and Maria give life to our advocacy efforts.

At the end of the day, when aides are not being drawn into working in home care, it’s Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable residents like Matthew and Stephen who suffer. PHA, home care providers, and advocates are asking the State to increase funding for the PAS program. Additional funding would put home care agencies in a better position to recruit and retain more HHAs, and thus ensure that PAS beneficiaries can continue to access the care they need to stay safe and healthy at home.

  1. https://www.leadingagepa.org/Portals/0/154869%20Long%20Term%20Care%20Statistics%20Book%20revised%20final.pdf page 14.
  2. https://mercer.healthcare-workforce.us/ +math

Advocacy Matters!

At Hearts for Home Care, we help those that care about home care by enabling you to get involved at the capacity in which you’re able to do so. Email us at advocacy@bayada.com or follow us on Facebook.com/Hearts4HomeCare in order to learn more about the home care advocacy community and find opportunities to get involved.

Hearts for Home Care Brings Legislative and Public Awareness to over 43 Million Viewers

Hearts for Home Care has had a busy year, working to secure public and legislative awareness to home care challenges across the industry. Over the first half of 2021, the duo of Alisa Fox and Marissa Fogal has worked in conjunction with BAYADA’s Government Affairs office to urge legislators to recognize and address home care industry challenges through user-generated traditional media and social media coverage. Over the past three months, the Public Affairs team launched three state-wide media campaigns in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and North Carolina focusing on the lack of state funding for both Private Duty Nursing (PDN) and Personal Care Assistant (PCA) programs, securing media coverage in major outlets like The Inquirer, NJ.com, and Spectrum News—all of which have garnered a total of 43,452,500 views.

Through their dedicated Hearts for Home Care social media efforts—which were formally added in September of last year—the Public Affairs team has been able to increase their audience reach to an additional 114,400 people over the three state-wide media campaigns, and these efforts only continue to grow.

BAYADA Director and Hearts for Home Care’s Senior Ambassador Hakeem Gaines speaking to reporters about the workforce shortage and retention issues with North Carolina’s Private Duty Nursing (PDN) program.

BAYADA’s Public Affairs team, in conjunction with the Government Affairs office, continues to advocate for medically fragile individuals and bring legislative action to the issues these populations face. To stay informed on important home care industry news and media updates, please follow Hearts for Home Care Advocacy on Facebook and Twitter!

Public Affairs: BAYADA’s First Full Year of Full Time Public Affairs Efforts Secures Media Attention and Contributes to Legislative Wins!

BAYADA’s public affairs program has generated public and legislative awareness about home care, its importance in communities across the country, and the issues clients and families face accessing care due to low state reimbursement rates.

BAYADA has used public affairs efforts throughout the past several years. That is—in states where GAO and state leadership knew that increased public awareness and engagement would reinforce a strong lobbying message, GAO deployed these efforts, which resulted in increased legislative & regulatory pressure on BAYADA’s key issues. This was particularly true where BAYADA, home care recipients, and the industry needed rate increases to stay sustainable and to be able to recruit and retain enough caregivers to meet clients’ demand.

2019 was the first year that BAYADA invested in a full-time public affairs program. Here, public affairs staff executed several state-specific campaigns to further BAYADA’s legislative agenda, as well as an “umbrella” campaign to highlight the challenges seen regularly on the national home care and home health care front.

GAO enlisted public affairs firm Regan Communications Group (RCG) full-time to put clients’ and caregivers’ stories in the spotlight. No easy task, especially as media and newsworthy issues tend to change minute-by-minute, RCG regularly delivers by getting GAO’s legislative message out via broadcast, print, and non-traditional media outlets. As a result of full-time public affairs efforts in 2019, state governments heard us loud and clear, and often made policy changes in order to help alleviate the issues BAYADA staff, clients, and families faced.

Below, see a list of media that BAYADA’s GAO was able to gain through its partnership with RCG in 2019:

Federal/Industry-Wide

Home Health Care News: Immigration Reform, Minimum Wage Increases Top of Mind for BAYADA

Home Health Care News: Medicaid legislation introduced in Congress

STAT News: Health aides’ low wages threaten home health care, a necessity for millions

Modern Healthcare: More middle-income seniors face financial insecurity

Home Health Care News: Industry Insiders: Don’t Overlook CMS’s Dual-Eligibles Directive

Home Health Care News: Immigration “Pathways” Vital to industry’s future

Home Health Care News: BAYADA Hits 1M Clients Served. Here’s Why Hitting 2M Will be More Difficult

Modern Healthcare: Nursing home staffing levels often fall below CMS expectations

Everyday Health: Demand on the Rise for Home Healthcare

Authority Magazine: The Future of Healthcare: “First and foremost, reprioritize long-term care into the home setting” with David Totaro of BAYADA Home Health Care

Delaware

Delaware Public Media: Advocates call on state lawmakers to raise Medicaid reimbursement rates

Delaware State News: BAYADA Pediatrics director awarded national honor for advocacy work

Indiana

RTV 6: Hoosier families want more resources for home health care

WTHR 13: Gasping for Care: Indiana families desperately seek care amid home nursing shortage

New Jersey

NJTV & NJ Spotlight: Shortage of Home Care Nurses on Horizon

My Central Jersey: NJ’s shortage of private duty nurses taking toll on families

NJ 101.5: A home health care nursing shortage is looming in NJ

NJ Star Ledger: Prefer to age at home in N.J.? It will soon be even harder | Editorial

Pennsylvania

Bucks County Courier Times: BAYADA Home Health Care’s Langhorne office recently nominated Melissa Husted, of Morrisville, and Winnie Gittens, of Philadelphia, for the Pennsylvania Home Care Association’s 2019 Direct Care Worker of the Year Award

PennLive/Patriot News: Advocates call on lawmakers to make home-based care services more accessible for seniors and disabled

Generocity: BAYADA transitions from for-profit to nonprofit to save its mission-driven culture

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: An old refrain: Better wages, conditions a must for direct care workforce

PennLive/Patriot News: An opportunity to do the right thing for vulnerable Pennsylvanians: Raise home health aides’ wages

WXPI & WPGH: Lack of home health care aides impacting local patients

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Increase funding for home care providers

Pittsburgh Tribune Review: Donna Pierantoni: Home care crisis’ impact on disabled adults, seniors

Rhode Island

Valley Breeze: Aging Out: Local family says vulnerable son fell through state’s cracks

Valley Breeze: Family frustrated after near-miss on losing care hours

Providence Business News: Anxious R.I. families await decision on special medical coverage

South Carolina

Post & Courier Gazette: Lowcountry home health care experts speak on the need for more workers in the field

Summerville Journal: Helping Mason: Family of Police Officers with Sick Child Loses Home Nurse Right Before the Holidays, need to raise Medicaid Reimbursement Rates in SC for 2020