More than 2.3 million U.S. workers provide in-home healthcare for older adults and people with disabilities. This is a labor force that has more than doubled since 2007, according to PHI, a nonprofit advocacy group that works to improve the quality of direct-care services and jobs. As our country shifts away from long-term care in institutional settings like nursing and assisted living facilities, more people than ever before are aging in place, right in their very own homes. This makes the home health industry ripe for exponential growth.
The U.S. Census Bureau projects the 65+ age population will expand from 56 million in 2020 to 85.6 million by 2050. The home healthcare market is expected to grow about 7 percent annually, from $103 billion in 2018 to a whopping $173 billion by 2026, meaning it would outpace growth in all other care types including hospital care and physician services. Currently, about 70 percent of those seeking home care are over the age of 65.
The range of home healthcare services a patient may receive is infinite. From nursing care to home health aides helping with basic daily needs, to specialized medical services such as lab work, tasks depend on the individual patient’s needs. At-home care may include:
Various hospitals have their own home health agencies. There are also Medicare-certified home health groups and independent or private organizations.
Home-based care primary care programs bring comprehensive care to homebound patients often suffering from severe chronic conditions, and many are run by academic medical centers. This makes doctors performing house calls no longer merely a thing of the past. These programs are gaining interest, providing primary care to certain types of patients, such as those with functional impairments like dementia, heart disease, and movement disorders, all of which make traveling to see a doctor challenging.
As more home health providers partner with telemedicine businesses, other companies continue to expand. Best Buy is growing its in-home senior care program to help deliver medical services to more than 5 million seniors by 2025. Experts also see more progression with mobile phlebotomy, particularly for patients with health conditions that make them more susceptible to coronavirus, and infusion pharmacies, which offer specialized services from pediatric to geriatric patients receiving infusion or injectable medication at their homes.
Home health workers can help with transitions, from hospital discharges post-surgery or illness, or help those moving through the care continuum through a rehabilitation or medical care facility. A leading cause of hospital readmission is found from a lack of support following original discharge, as the first three days at home are the most critical.
While nursing homes lost roughly 18,000 jobs in June 2020, home healthcare services gained the same amount, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Some industry experts believe this trend is fast-tracked by COVID-19 after nursing homes were hard hit. No-visitor policies, put into effect at nursing facilities to help curb the spread, offered additional increased demand for home health services.
In the spring of 2020, home care agencies noticed the job market’s volatility and helped foster growth in home health. Numerous employers have increased hiring plans to maintain solid staffing levels during the country’s public health emergency. Also, the same providers are gaining new clients, and the expectation is that both the increase in clients and the hiring of new home-care workers will go hand in hand. According to the BLS, the economy is estimated to create roughly 1.2 million new positions for home caregivers by 2026. This is a 41 percent increase from the 2.9 million established personal care and home health aids in 2016. The BLS also projects overall employment of home health aides and personal care aides is expected to grow 34 percent from 2019–2029, more rapidly than other occupations.