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Why is there a caregiver shortage?

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Posted at 8:32 PM, Feb 24, 2022

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The pandemic continues to fuel worker shortages, this time in the home caregiver industry.

Any crisis usually has multiple causes and explanations, but experts believe the rapid aging of the baby boomer population to be a major factor behind it.

Around 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day, and a growing number of them are choosing to receive care in their homes, according to AARP.

Tammy Scott owns Bluegrass Home Care Services in Lexington. These days, she says calls for care are non-stop.

"You'll get 50 phone calls all at once, and then there'll be a few weeks," said Scott. "I feel like the need for in-home care has increased a lot. The facilities, I hear, are full or they are having trouble staffing as well, and so people are going from the hospital to home."

Scott says they're doing okay with staffing this week, but it could change the next. But there's a shortage of good caregivers.

"I'm not really sure why there's such a difficulty finding people to work," said Scott.

It's the latest in a nationwide worker shortage fueled by the pandemic that has some home care businesses scrambling and others making plans before they have to.

"It's impacted not just the homecare industry, but the facilities, hospitals, nursing homes, rehab facilities. It's impacted them all and it trickles down," said Scott.

In Franklin County, Home Instead is looking for 50 in-home caregivers to spread across clients in 21 counties.

Human Resources Director Tonya Hoots says the hardest part is just to get applicants to follow through with the whole process.

"It's hard because some of them, you'll get a phone call to an interview, and they don't show up," said Hoots.

Hoots says she tries to focus on what she can control and remain positive.

"I do think if you are positive and you're posting like good stuff to get them in the door, letting them know that we're still going to be successful and we're still going to take care of people, it helps," said Hoots.

Although they don't have any clients on a waitlist yet, Hoots isn't waiting around until it happens.

"We don't put anybody on a waiting list. We immediately go take care of them. We're going to get caregivers out there one way or the other. So yeah, it's definitely a need," said Hoots.

According to the Kentucky State Data Center, the need for caregivers is expected to grow because Kentucky's population over 60, which is currently the largest age group, is expected to increase.