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Miami research suggests more benefits for Ohio's direct care workers

04/11/2013

New research from Miami University's Scripps Gerontology Center identifies the best practices and strategies for supporting direct care workers such as nurses and home care aides who are the lowest paid and least trained workers in Ohio's long-term care workforce.

In a new report, “Common Sense for Caring Organizations,” Scripps researchers identified best practices and strategies for supporting direct care workers by studying high-performing nursing homes and home care agencies in Ohio. Although most daily care and assistance for Ohio’s older population are provided by family and friends, paid direct care workers provide much of the formal assistance in the daily lives of Ohio’s frail elders.

“One of the goals of our study is to help the state understand how policy choices directly affect our caring organizations and the frontline workers who provide care to our frail older adults,” said Jane Straker, Scripps senior researcher.

Direct care workers say they need health benefits, mileage reimbursement, better wages and other financial resources in order to continue caregiving.

"The heart and the hands of long-term services and supports are our frontline workers, yet most of these workers stay in these careers in spite of the pay and benefits, not because of them,” notes Straker.

Researchers identified seven key themes across Ohio’s top care organizations such as choosing good staff and support and communicating often with transparency and honesty. The report includes managerial tips from staff at high-performing organizations. Researchers also highlight several suggestions for state legislators on how to encourage the best practices within Ohio’s long-term care workforce, including increasing wages.

Report authors are Straker, Sarah Boehle, Ian Nelson and Emily Fox. The report is available online.

The research was funded by a sub-grant from the Ohio Office of Medical Assistance (OMA) to the Ohio Colleges of Medicine Government Resource Center (GRC) as part of the Ohio Direct Service Workforce (ODSW) Initiative. Funding to support the ODSW Initiative, including this research project and report, comes from the federal Money Follows the Person (MFP) Demonstration Grant (CFDA 93.791) to OMA from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

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