When the world was devastated, piling up the dead bodies around each and every corner due to COVID-19, the frontline workers were the only savior on earth to protect mankind from the pernicious virus. The frontline workers toiled day and night off in the single-minded mission of saving mankind.
Home Healthcare Workers In Poor Health Conditions
Amidst the outbreak, it has been a very stressful time for all of them. Little importance has been given to the health systems and healthcare organizations for an infrastructure and resources to support physicians, nurses, and care –team members.
If they can leave aside their own family, even work at the cost of their own family, or even work at the cost of their own lives, there should be some sense of responsibility among us to ensure a safety net for them to work care-free.
The worst affected of them are the Home-health care workers. Very little information is disseminated about the risks and experiences of the workers providing help and care to older adults who live at home.
The home-health aides, home attendants are generally members of a vulnerable population within healthcare delivery. Even data has been released that Home healthcare workers are essential to the health of more than 7 million older adults requiring care at home.
Vulnerable health-care workers
We need to open up a window into the vulnerabilities the home-care workers are put into. It would not only improve their lives but also pave the way to a robust healthcare system that would help mitigate things in future pandemics and outbreaks.
The various risks they encounter involve daily, face-to-face, hands-on work with care recipients increases the risk of transmission for both care professionals and care, recipients.
While some were well-trained to take all the possible precautionary measures for themselves, many were left untrained on the pandemic, inconsistencies in the various levels of support led to a dangerous lack of knowledge.
Even, the shortages in Personal Protective Equipment proved disastrous, especially for home care helpers. They are often put to this juxtaposition of risking their own health by working and handling the finances by not working. Amidst these, the concern for the care recipient plays a major role.
What do studies say about Home-health care workers?
The poor health conditions of home health care workers are not new to pandemics. This has been a long-discussed issue that is rarely brought to attention. There was this analysis made on self-reported data collected from around 3000 home-health care workers in 38 states around 2014-2018.
The observations made are, more than a quarter reported their general health as fair or poor and 1 in every 5 reported poor mental health along with a decelerated physical health.
The study published by the American journal of public health reveals that the elements like low-household incomes, inability to afford medical care, and a history of depression were deeply associated with poor health among them.
Not only the psychological circumstances, rather the diseases like arthritis, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure were also high among home-health care workers.
The author of the study, dr. Madeline Sterling raised concerns over the deteriorating health especially during COVID as they were involved in providing essential day-to-day care to older adults to keep them healthy at home.
The data presented an opportunity to go deeper into their health aspect at the national level. The section of society employed under home-health care workers is mostly women and minorities. So, the findings could be taken as an alarm to improve the health of home-health care workers.
Measures to improve their conditions
Better pay or higher wages may help in easing their lives and health.
There is a need for adequate health insurance and better health screening and treatment to keep them in a better condition to work carefree.
More such studies need to be performed that would instigate public health experts and policy-makers to put such programs in place. Recently more than two million home healthcare workers in the US have been reported and expected to increase by 38 percent in the next three years. The welfare of home health care workers demands attention and needs to be discussed widely.
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