Collaborative Publishes Report on Baltimore Direct Care & Services Workers

Inadequate pay and lack of respect and appreciation are significant factors driving the workforce crisis in long-term services and supports settings in Baltimore City, according to a new report from the Maryland Regional Direct Services Collaborative (the Collaborative).

Titled “Long-Term Services and Supports in Baltimore: A Framework for Improving Job Quality and Creating a Highly Trained Direct Care and Services Workforce,” the report is the result of extensive research and feedback from a wide range of individual and organizational stakeholders. Interviews and focus groups with direct care and services workers (DSWs), employers, trade groups, union representatives, people who rely on care and their families, experts, and government officials yielded the following findings:

  1. Inadequate compensation is the single biggest factor driving the workforce crisis.
  2. Medicaid reimbursement rates are not high enough to allow many LTSS providers to increase wages to necessary levels.
  3. Respect and appreciation help but are insufficient on their own.
  4. Holistic training and support are appreciated, but also are insufficient on their own.
  5. DSWs in nursing homes and assisted living facilities see low staffing ratios as diminishing job quality

Click HERE to download the report.

“Our findings are not new to anyone who studies this topic—and they are not specific to Baltimore; however, the fact that very little has been done about them is remarkable,” said Meg LaPorte, report co-author and executive direct of the Collaborative. “Data and outcomes from research in other parts of the country have uncovered similar findings: that pay is woeful, respect and appreciation are lacking, and recognition of the incredible work that DSWs did on the front lines of the pandemic appears to now be largely forgotten.”

Additional findings from the report show that while wages have increased since the pandemic, they have not kept pace with inflation.

“The median hourly wage for Baltimore-area home care aides is only about $14, and the median hourly wage for nursing home employees is only a few dollars more,” said David Rodwin, report co-author, Collaborative vice chair, and attorney with Baltimore-based Public Justice Center. “DSWs are passionate about their work; many see it as a calling. But they are increasingly asking themselves whether they can continue in their chosen field given the low pay. Without greater attention to these issues, the crisis among DSWs in Baltimore is likely to worsen.”