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Senate advances measure to address shortage of in-home caregivers

The full Senate unanimously approved a measure on Monday that would allow personal care aides to perform a wider scope of in-home healthcare services under the supervision of a registered nurse.

Senate Bill 42, authored by Sen. Dave Rader, R-Tulsa, would allow personal care aides to provide additional hourly care, like assisting patients with showering and dressing. Currently, only full-time, 24-hour care home health aides are able to provide these services.

“Statistics show 10,000 baby boomers reach the age of 65 every year, and 90 percent of them want to age in place, which is the most cost-effective option,” Rader said. “However, 75 percent of Americans over the age of 65 live with multiple health care problems that are difficult to manage without help. We’re quickly running into the problem that we don’t have enough caregivers to provide the range of services some patients need in order to live in their own homes.”

In-home caregivers are one of the fasted growing fields in health care, yet there is still expected to be a shortage of 450,000 workers in the industry. Allowing home health and senior care companies to train personal care aides to perform expanded roles that are typically only provided by 24-hour care could keep costs down for seniors and make home care more affordable, while addressing the in-home caregiver shortage, Rader explained.

The measure now moves across the rotunda for consideration where Rep. Sheila Dills, R-Tulsa, is the House author.