Americans live longer base from the statistics, thus making the population age and as it ages the need for home care workers will grow significantly. According to the Bureau of Labor Standards, the Home Care Workforce will grow from 1.7 Million to 2.6 million in 2018, but the people caring for seniors in their homes earn on average less than 10 dollars an hour and many do not get benefits. A number of those workers assembled at the Food and Medicine Headquarters in Brewer Thursday to encourage their Senators to make it a priority to improve pay, benefits and training for this growing workforce.
Helen Hanson stood at a podium from her huddling under the tent and shared her financial struggles during her work as a home care worker.
"My bills are paid but when the oil tank is down do I pay the mortgage or do I spend 350 dollars to put 100 gallons in the oil tank," she said.
Although Hanson loves going into peoples’ homes to care for them she couldn’t make the ends meet. So instead, she went to work at a rehab facility as a certified nurse and she got better pay and benefits. This kind of problem is one example of a nationwide concern.
"We have 3 million direct care health workers in the country right now and we're projecting 27 million seniors by 2050," Pointed out Reverend Mark Doty, one of those gathered at the Food and Medicine Rally. The pro workers group had a stage demonstration where they showed how hard their work is. The demonstration is even complete with a juggler to show how complicated it is for home care workers to juggle their responsibilities. Everything is happening while caring for a growing number of seniors and finding an easy solution may be a juggling act too. The issue becomes how to pay for a better wage for them after all agree that home care workers should be paid well.
Vickie Purgavie, executive director of the Home Care and Hospice Alliance of Maine, which advocate for home care businesses, says home care companies couldn't afford to pay workers more because they depend on federal funding for most of their revenue, and their reimbursement rates are fixed. Simply put if the businesses give their workers a raise, they can't charge the government more money to provide those raises
"So any additional requirements if you will around wages or benefits which this group of workers is so deserving of would put the home care agency at a significant deficit," Purgavie said.
Organizers with Food and Medicine say because many home caregivers are mothers, they submitted Mothers Day cards to Senators King and Collins today, urging them to support a resolution in the Senate urging congress to address the issue of better wages and benefits for Home Care workers. A spokesperson for Senator King said he is still reviewing the legislation.