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Nurse and PCA Shortage is a Crisis for Families

Nurse and PCA Shortage is a Crisis for Families

A recent Star Tribune article shows how the nurse and PCA shortage is propelling one family into crisis and placing burdensome caregiver responsibilities on a grade-school age boy.   (

Unfortunately, that one family is representative of thousands of families across the state.  Children are caring for disables parents and their siblings.  Aging parents are caring for adult with disabilities as complex as paraplegia combined with ventilator dependence.  Families are exhausted, in burnout, and in crisis.

“The supply of personal care workers has failed to keep pace with the burgeoning population of older adults being discharged sooner from hospitals and nursing homes.  And cuts in state disability services have aggravated the crisis, forcing more families to forgo paid caregivers. . .

Gov. Tim Pawlenty proposed the most far-reaching cuts in the 30-year history of Minnesota’s home care program. Determined to rein in soaring costs and fraudulent billing practices, lawmakers approved reforms that slashed spending by about $170 million in the next budget cycle and tightened the rules to qualify for state-funded care.

The Department of Human Services estimates that 8,800 Minnesotans have seen their home care services cut back or terminated since the reforms took effect.

The cuts took hold just as Minnesota’s job market began to strengthen, and many home caregivers found other, better-paying jobs. By the end of 2014, the number of vacant home health care positions in Minnesota had soared to 4,525 — the highest level on record.” (quotes taken from Start Trib Article)

We are facing a perfect storm:  cuts to reimbursement rates for nurses and PCAs, insurance plans refusing to pay for services, increases in minimum wage drawing staff away from PCA roles, a shortage of nurses, and an overall shortage of workers in America.  There are not enough nurses and PCAs to care for disabled people in their homes. 

Today is the day to acknowledge this new reality and start fixing the problem. 

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