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Care Can’t Wait:

My independence means everything to me as a disabled woman. I have lived on my own for over two years now. PCAs are vital to my ability to live independently. Without PCAs, I wouldn’t be able to use the bathroom or get dressed. My PCA is the person who allows me to live in my apartment. In the future, I hope to have a job. I wouldn’t be able to work without my PCA’s support. Would you be able to work full-time without using the bathroom or eating lunch?

There are more than 820,000 people nationwide on waiting lists for HCBS waiver programs, with two-thirds having intellectual and developmental disabilities. Waiting lists need to be eliminated, so people don’t have to wait for support. Some people are on waiting lists for a decade or longer.

Once somebody is eligible for services, it is often challenging to hire and retain staff. Turnover is particularly high in this field and recruitment is difficult, therefore positions remain empty for long enough that providers are unable to accept new clients. In three semesters of college, I went through three different PCAs. Low wages and limited benefits make direct care positions even more difficult to staff.

PCAs and other home healthcare professionals in the United States are paid just $13.02 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the New York Times, home care employees in six states make an average of just $11 per hour, and one in five of them live below the federal poverty line.

In upstate New York, home care workers make just $13.20 an hour. On the other hand, fast food workers in the same region have been making $15 an hour since last summer. A human being’s life should be more important than a Big Mac. Wages need to increase in the homecare industry nationwide. Without home care workers, many people like me would be forcibly institutionalized.

Home care workers are more important to me than athletes, singers, or actors who make millions of dollars a year. People like me wouldn’t be able to live in our communities without the proper support staff. Wages need to increase now because care can’t wait!

Sources:

Donovan, Liz, and Muriel Alarcón. “Long Hours, Low Pay, Loneliness and a Booming Industry.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 25 Sept. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/09/25/business/home-health-aides-industry.html.

“Home Health and Personal Care Aides : Occupational Outlook Handbook.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 8 Sept. 2021, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home-health-aides-and-personal-care-aides.htm.

McKay, Morgan. “NY Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers Raised to $15 per Hour.” Spectrum News , Spectrum News , 1 July 2021, https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/politics/2021/07/02/ny-fast-food-worker-minimum-wage-raised-to–15-per-hour.

Kaiser Family Foundation (2018). Waiting List Enrollment for Medicaid Section 1915(c) Home and Community-Based Services Waivers. https://www.kff.org/health-reform/state-indicator/waiting-lists-for-hcbs-waivers/?

Rey, Michelle Del. “Wages for Home Care Workers to Increase by $3.” Times Union, Times Union, 14 Apr. 2022, https://www.timesunion.com/state/article/Wages-for-home-care-workers-to-increase-by-3-17078683.php.

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Originally published as Care Can’t Wait: at Grace Dow Writes

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