According to a study, compensated home care employees go above and…

Study Illustrates That Paid Home Care Workers Go Well Beyond Standard Duties

According to a study, compensated home care employees go above and beyond their regular responsibilities.

According to new Cornell research, paid home care professionals are assisting patients in managing chronic diseases and enhancing general and mental health, much beyond the personal care contributions with which they have been previously identified.

Expanded responsibilities, particularly emotional care, resulted in a higher perceived value of the workers’ contributions, according to the study, which could help raise compensation for home care workers, who are mostly paid modest wages; one in every four people lives in poverty.

The study was published in the journal Innovation in Aging on Jan. 6 and is titled “Utilization, Contributions, and Perceptions of Paid Home Care Workers among Households in New York State.” Dr. Madeline Sterling, an assistant professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, is the lead author; co-authors include Ariel Avgar, Ph.D., a professor and associate dean for outreach and sponsored research at the ILR School.

The study is part of a growing body of work conducted by Sterling and Avgar that examines the working conditions and future of the rapidly expanding home care workforce, which is predicted to grow from 2.3 million to almost 4 million by 2030 in California.

The researchers used the Cornell Survey Research Institute’s 2020 Empire State Poll to poll 800 New York state respondents over the phone for the study. A third of respondents indicated they or a member of their immediate family had received care from a paid home care worker, and 74% of those 274 persons stated the employees did more than just offer personal care.

According to the researchers, the results could help realign reimbursement for paid home care workers’ pay and services, as well as improve standardized training—especially for emotional and some medical care components.

“Home care providers contribute to care in ways that go far beyond aiding their clients with daily routines,” Sterling added. “Not only did we discover that they help with medical treatment and emotional support, but we also discovered that doing so was linked to higher levels of client satisfaction.

“We’ve seen home care workers give critical frontline care during the epidemic, but the reality is that they’ve been doing it for years but aren’t often recognized for it,” she added.

“Our findings back up efforts to promote public policies and organizational practices that recognize the importance of home care workers and improve their working circumstances, including compensation and benefits,” Avgar added. “This study adds to the growing body of evidence about the vital contribution of workers who are all too often overlooked by the health-care system and politicians.

“Improving working conditions and expanding training for home care workers has the potential to address long-standing quality of care issues in our health care system, particularly for aging populations, while also advancing economic opportunities for a workforce that is disproportionately made up of women of color—a powerful win-win,” he said.

Data analyst Joanna Bryan Ringel of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Division of General Internal Medicine, research assistant Jacklyn Cho of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Division of General Internal Medicine, and Catherine Riffin, assistant professor of psychology in medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, are also co-authors on the study.

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