A new federal labor rule that was heralded as a victory for home health workers has aggravated a severe shortage of caregivers, disrupting care for our most vulnerable residents.
Agencies that employ home care workers have to limit hours to avoid paying overtime, because there is simply not enough money in state-funded personal care assistant program to compensate.
This, combined with a low, minimum wage, makes it harder to find good, qualified people to work in this industry. People with disabilities have to scramble to find new caregivers at a time when they are in short supply. Unable to fill empty shifts, some people with disabilities report difficulty getting help with basic tasks, from bathing and dressing to being transferred from a wheelchair.
Kathy W., a Moscow resident, lives alone in her accessible apartment. Having difficulty finding caregivers causes her worry and fear because she needs help transferring from her chair to her bed every night. “I have used my friends to help before, but now they are getting older and no longer able to help.”
She relies on 1st Choice Personal Assistant Services to spread the word around about the need for care givers as she can’t absorb the cost of advertising for help and has exhausted her other sources.
For many, going without basic services may mean going longer before transferring from a wheelchair. And that can result in pressure sores.
And with continued difficulty finding workers, many may end up in nursing homes. That means a significant loss of independence. And nursing homes are proven to be a more expensive solution than home care for taxpayers.
Care givers need to know how vitally important their work is and Medicaid needs to compensate for it.