Posted on Friday, August 19, 2016 1:30 AM
Home care workers are beginning a movement to Legislation for higher wages. As the election year quickly approaches, these issues are brought to the forefront. Some policymakers are supporting the cause.
“We’ve got to raise the minimum wage for everybody!” Representative Lois Frankel (D – FL) said during a recent policy roundtable event in West Palm Beach, Florida.
“All workers deserve a raise. I think someone taking care of my parent is worth a whole lot more to me than $15 an hour. I’m going to keep fighting to make sure you get the pay you deserve, and I’ll keep fighting to protect and expand social security and Medicaid to make sure that all families can afford the care they need.”
In Florida, health care issues are extremely important to voters and legislators.
“As your mayor, it’s important to me that our seniors and people living with disabilities can live with dignity and receive the quality care they deserve,” West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio said during the panel. “That is why my office is hosting this important conversation. My hope is that West Palm Beach will play a leading role in securing a healthier future for Florida’s seniors, caregivers and the long term care industry.”
Low wages could create issues down the road, especially since millions of Americans are set to enter retirement and will need care.
“As more people get older, we will need more home care workers,” Patricia Walker, a home care worker from Tampa, Florida, who has more than 20 years of experience, told Home Health Care News. “But a lot of people don’t want to go into home care because of the money we make. That’s the No. 1 problem.”
Lower wages have also been a factor in high turnover rates plaguing the industry, as some home care workers make their way into professions that involve less skill that pay similar or higher wages, such as fast food or retail jobs.
“How can you save for the future when you’re not making anything?” Gwen Strowbridge, a home care worker from Deerfield, Florida, said during the panel. “I’m 71 and still working in home care. My day is coming soon. Who’s going to care for me when I need care myself? We have to make sure to vote. Vote to elect leaders that will stand with us. Vote to make sure that the younger generation has it better.”
The reason home care workers remain in the industry for decades-long careers, like Walker and Stonebridge, is because of their caregiving nature and the fulfillment of the job.
“We love what we do,” Walker said. “You have to be a very special, caring individual to go through what we go through. We’re not just home care workers, we are our patients’ best friends, their cook, we do their bathing, laundry, shopping. We are everything from the good person to the bad person. We do it because we love our clients and it gives them dignity. It gives them respect.”
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