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Jobs for in-home care booming

An aging population and changes in health care delivery are leading to a rising demand for jobs in home health care and other services designed to allow people to remain in their homes longer.

An estimated 1.2 million people in the U.S. worked as personal care aides in 2012 and that figure is expected to increase 49 percent over the next decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Locally, Springfield-based Comfort Keepers plans to hire as many as 30 new caregivers a month to serve the agency’s roughly 700 clients.

And Community Mercy Home Care and Pharmacy has doubled its therapy staff to 24 employees over the past two years, said Bryan Crum, director of operations for the agency.

Several factors are contributing to a rising demand for services for in-home care, said Bryan Bucklew, president and CEO of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association. An aging population of baby boomers is demanding more services and living longer.

In addition, laws like the Affordable Care Act place a greater emphasis on paying physicians and providers based on the quality of a patient’s care, he said, as opposed to the number of procedures performed.

“There is a huge financial incentive for providers to make sure that people follow the discharge instructions and get the proper type of follow-up care,” Bucklew said.

Community Mercy Home Care and Pharmacy is a joint venture of American Nursing Care and Community Mercy Health Partners. It provides everything from speech and physical therapy to nursing and social services, such as skilled care for patients with diabetes or helping patients recover from surgery.

Most employees of the agency are registered nurses and physical therapists, among other positions.

“You’re definitely seeing more doctors and more practices gear their care toward that as an ultimate goal,” Crum said.

Area health care organizations also said they expect additional hiring for positions like registered nurses who provide medical care to residents in their homes after surgery or other events.

Jobs in those areas, including registered nurses, are expected to increase 19 percent by 2022, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s due to factors such as an increased emphasis on preventative care, along with growing rates of chronic conditions and demand for health care services from baby boomers.

Edward Nydam of Urbana has only been receiving physical therapy and registered nursing services at his home for a little more than a week. An avid bike rider, Nydam has worked in jobs ranging from construction to commercial fishing, and once operated a 90-foot yacht.

He and his wife, Sandy Nydam, are hoping the therapy will help him regain the strength he lost after a recent bout with pneumonia.

On Friday, William Duffield, a registered nurse from Community Mercy Home Care was on hand to assess Edward Nydam’s overall health, and work with Sandy Nydam to explain the medication that was prescribed. Often, providing care in a patient’s home is more cost-effective and comfortable for patients, Duffield said.

Although she was reluctant initially, Sandy Nydam said insurance covers the cost for the assistance and her husband’s health has already improved.

“My biggest benefit is I’ve got someone for support to make sure I’m doing the right thing,” she said.

Although Comfort Keepers doesn’t provide medical services, they provide caregivers who perform tasks like light housekeeping, grocery shopping, driving patients to a medical appointment or cooking breakfast, said Lisa Hube Grimes, a spokeswoman for the company.

The local office serves nine counties and employs about 300 caregivers, she said.

Demand has increased as aging clients seek assistance that doesn’t necessarily involve medical care, but still makes it easier to remain relatively independent and stay at home.

For medical services, Crum said the demand is likely to continue because patients are more comfortable at home, and because there are more financial incentives for both the patient and medical provider to improve outcomes overall and avoid repeated trips to the hospital.

“It used to be very much pay per visit service,” Crum said. “It’s shifted dramatically to now, payment is geared more toward the quality of care you provided.”

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