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Advocates say long-term funding needed amid caregiver shortage

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Posted at 5:13 PM, Nov 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-16 19:54:33-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Advocates for senior citizens are worried about long-term funding for a state caregiver program.

It has been more difficult to find home caregivers as many in the industry are leaving for higher-paying jobs.

Related: Caregiver shortage impacts those with disabilities

Currently, under TennCare's CHOICES program, caregivers can only make up to $13 an hour. Due to the home caregiver shortage, $400 million in federal funding is coming to Tennessee to boost wages. However, advocates are worried they won’t be able to sustain that pay increase when it dries up.

"We’ve already seen that, in the last two years dealing with COVID, it is amazing to me that we didn’t see a slowdown of people wanting services in their home,” said Isabeau Strader, Human Resources director at Home Instead Senior Care “And with the current status of things, and not having enough labor, in these scenarios, it’s a constant decision for us on who is going to get care and who’s not."

Strader is glad that the funding is there to help. She said the waitlist continues to grow for most providers. "It’s not uncommon that we have to turn people away right now," Strader said.

In-home care is usually more affordable than a nursing home. "It’s definitely a huge difference, and kind of save money when you’re talking about the different type of facilities versus a home care setting," Strader said.

She wants lawmakers to come up with a long-term funding solution for TennCare's caregiver program as baby boomers get older.

"I think it’s just so important for them to understand that this is not something that’s only a need right now, this will continue to be a need moving forward," Strader said.