Understanding Personal Assistance Services Experiences in Rural States

Personal care aides (PCAs) provide essential services for people with self-care disabilities yet there are shortages of these workers in many parts of the country. PCAs assist people with basic daily needs, such as meal preparation, bathing, and dressing. As the US populace grows older and more individuals experience disabilities, personal care has become one of the fastest growing occupations.

New research explores quantitatively where people with disabilities who need help with self-care and daily activities live and compares that to where PCAs are located (see the interactive maps). Researchers also assembled the personal stories of some of these workers in another interactive presentation that highlights the low pay, lifestyle challenges, and significant burnout.

In a Health Affairs paper from this project, we addressed the need for wage and benefit increases, improved training and career opportunities, increased flexibility in state Medicaid policies on paid family caregiving, incentives and compensation for travel, and increased data collection and government tracking of workforce data could help boost the supply of personal care aides in rural America.

This research was performed by Susan A. Chapman, Laura Wagner, and Timothy Bates at UCSF HWRC in partnership with Rayna Sage, Lillie Grieman, and Ari Lissau at the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural) at the University of Montana.

For information, contact: Susan Chapman.