TABLE 5-2 Characteristics of Direct-Care Workers, 1999

Characteristic

Hospital Aides

Nursing Home Aides

Home-Care Aides

Demographic Characteristics

Gender (% female)

81.2

91.3

91.8

Average age (years)

40.5

38.0

46.2

White, non-Hispanic (%)

48.4

55.6

50.3

Hispanic or Latino (%)

10.7

7.8

15.9

U.S., native-born (%)

81.5

85.5

75.1

Marital status (% married)

46.2

42.7

44.2

Education—less than high school (%)

17.6

26.3

30.9

Employment Characteristics

Year-round, full-time employment (%)

52.4

48.3

34.3

Part-year, part-time employment (%)

13.0

14.8

24.3

Self-employed (%)

0.0

0.3

16.8

SOURCE: Montgomery et al., 2005.

A recent study found notable differences between female direct-care workers and the female workforce overall (Table 5-3) (Smith and Baughman, 2007). Black women, for example, make up a disproportionately large percentage of the female direct-care workforce relative to their presence in the female workforce overall (29 percent versus 13 percent). A second difference is that female direct-care workers are more likely to be single mothers than are female workers in general (24 percent versus 14 percent); of those who are single parents, 35 percent to 40 percent are below the poverty line (GAO, 2001b).

EDUCATION AND TRAINING REQUIREMENTS

The education and training of the direct-care workforce is insufficient to prepare these workers to provide quality care to older adults. Although there are a number of state and federal requirements for the education and training of nurse aides, home health aides, and personal- and home-care aides, these requirements are minimal (Table 5-4). Many direct-care workers have no more than a high school education, and some have even less (Montgomery et al., 2005; Smith and Baugham, 2007). Minimum training requirements for these workers are often inadequate or non-existent, and they vary across occupational categories and settings of care as well as among states. A number of other training-program characteristics vary among states as well, including the specific qualifications that instructors are expected to have, maximum student/instructor ratios, and the required program approval and oversight processes (AARP, 2006).



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