1 million immigrants work in direct care, one in four.
The country faces a severe shortage in home health aides. With 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day, an even more serious shortfall lies ahead, according to Paul Osterman, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management. He predicts a national shortfall of 151,000 direct care workers by 2030, a gap that will grow to 355,000 by 2040. That shortage will escalate if immigrant workers lose work permits, or if other industries raise wages and lure away direct care workers, he said in a Kaiser Health News story.
About 59,000 Haitians live in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), a humanitarian program that gave them permission to work and live here after the January 2010 earthquake devastated their country. Many work in health care, often in grueling, low-wage jobs as nursing assistants or home health aides.
Now these workers’ days are numbered: The Trump administration decided to end TPS for Haitians, giving them until July 22, 2019, to leave the country or face deportation.
Sister Jacquelyn McCarthy, CEO of Bethany Health Care Center in Framingham, Mass., which runs a nursing home with 170 patients. She has eight Haitian and Salvadoran workers with TPS, mostly certified nursing assistants. They show up reliably for 4:30 a.m. shifts and never call out sick, she said. Many of them have worked there for over five years. She said she already has six CNA vacancies and can’t afford to lose more. McCarthy is quoted in Kaiser Health News:
What people don’t seem to understand is that people from other countries really are the backbone of long-term care. There aren’t people to replace them if they should all be deported.
The KHN report continues: the emerging crisis is driven by low wages — around $10 an hour, mostly funded by state Medicaid programs — and a shrinking pool of workers willing to perform physically and emotionally demanding work: helping people get in and out of bed, go to the bathroom, shower, eat, participate in activities, and often dealing with challenging behaviors.
Even worse difficulties may come, as America’s senior citizen population swells to 88 million people in 2050, up from 48 million currently, and requires more assistance with chronic health conditions and disabilities, experts warn.