Young caregiver, senior

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a shortage of 200,000 home care aides across California, according to a study authored by a University of California, San Francisco, researcher Joanne Spetz.

Spetz and colleagues found that the labor unions in the Golden State representing home health workers have written to the state asking for income support, health benefits, sick leave and unemployment insurance. They also have been raising the alarm about the need for protective equipment, sanitation supplies and free testing for these employees. Without that, recruitment will continue to be a struggle, according to Spetz, who said she believes that “with the extra risk associated with the pandemic,” some have decided that such work “isn’t worth the risk.”

The shortage comes at a time of year when demand for home care aides typically rises, according to Tracy Steuckrath, client services manager for Visiting Angels in Sacramento, CA. 

“Adult children come home for the holidays and see that mom and dad have declined in a way they didn’t imagine, and then we get a phone call,” she said. “Without the staff to appoint to these families, I’m not sure what we’re going to do.”