Saturday, September 18, 2010

Governor issues Executive Order intended to improve home healthcare services in Pennsylvania

Governor Edward G. Rendell has signed an executive order to enhance home healthcare services for seniors and people with disabilities.

Currently, Pennsylvania faces an acute shortage of direct caregivers, a shortage estimated at about 10,000 workers. As a result, consumers who directly hire their own caregivers are not always able to dependably recruit and retain workers who are right for them. Attendants in Pennsylvania are paid an average of $9.10 an hour, and they usually receive no health insurance, sick days, vacation or retirement through their jobs. As a result, turnover rates can be as high as 100 percent and there is no backup system to help people when their caregiver calls off or quits.

Executive Order 2010-04 helps address the long-term care needs of seniors and people with disabilities who prefer to use the consumer-employer home care model, and the direct care workers who assist them with independent living. The consumer-employer home care model allows individuals to hire, manage, schedule, train and terminate the home care provider of their choice.

"Pennsylvanian's deserve the right to choose the way they receive home care and we have a responsibility to ensure access to high-quality services enabling them to live independently for as long as they wish," Governor Rendell said. "This executive order protects the rights and well-being of consumers by implementing policies to ensure an available, high quality workforce."

The order creates the Consumer Workforce Council comprised of seniors and people with disabilities who employ their own attendants to serve as the policy voice to make recommendations to expand the consumer-directed model of home care - especially in regards to the number of available, qualified and reliable home care attendants. It also guarantees the rights of employees to elect a union representative should they so choose. The executive order enables caregivers and consumers to work together to tackle the chronic workforce issues such as turnover, training and benefits in order to help stabilize the consumer-employer home care workforce.

The executive order is available online here.

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