Personal Home Care Aides: An Untapped Resource
As caregivers with the most direct contact with patients, personal home care aides are uniquely positioned to help improve their clients’ quality of life. Three years ago, the California Long-Term Care Education Center (CLTCEC) received an $11.8 million Health Care Innovation Award from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to pilot a project called “Care Team Integration of the Home-Based Workforce.” The goal of the project was to train personal home care aides to more efficiently and comprehensively meet the medical needs of elderly patients whose conditions are among the most complex and expensive to treat. The results of the pilot are in, and there’s great news for all Californians.
The rigorous 17-week course focused on improving personal home care aides’ core competencies in several key areas, including infection control, nutrition and medication management. Most importantly, better integrating home health care providers into patients’ larger care team dramatically improved health outcomes. In just three years, 4,200 patient-provider pairs have completed the training, and another 500 are currently enrolled in the program.
Personal home care aides hold the key to reducing healthcare costs by quickly detecting conditions and complications that might lead to emergency room visits and extended nursing home stays. In a country struggling to keep medical expenses under control, we can’t afford not to invest in personal home care aides who have the potential to save Medicare and Medicaid millions of dollars while making patients’ lives better.