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New push to give in-home direct care staff a livable wage

Direct care crisis
Published: Mar. 25, 2022 at 7:26 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - There’s a new issue brewing in the health care field, specifically the care that comes to your home. It’s getting increasingly hard to find direct care workers and part of the problem may be the pay.

So many organizations are looking for employees these days, and this field is no different. The difference is this work can be life or death for some people.

Getting in and out of bed is impossible for Renee Wood without assistance from her in-home direct care aide.

“I cannot make it without some kind of help every day,” said Wood.

It’s becoming harder and harder to find aides like this across Ohio. Pay appears to be a big issue. The Ability Center of Toledo recently surveyed direct care workers and found some only make $12.95 an hour.

“Why would somebody accept a job where they’re going into someone’s home and getting paid $12.95 an hour when they’re able to go and get a higher paying job at Amazon or Subway?” asked Katie Hunt Thomas with the Ability Center.

That’s why the Ability Center and advocates like Wood are pushing for a direct care worker minimum wage to be adopted by the state for Medicaid patients. A living wage could attract more of these aides and hopefully give them incentive to stick around.

“Without having workers out there, with no direct care workforce to speak of people really can’t age in place and live out their lives in their homes rather than in an institutional setting,” said Hunt Thomas.

“I think the home care industry has become so full of red tape and regulations that there’s not that one on one interaction anymore. So you can’t develop a relationship,” said Wood.

That’s why Wood advocates for these direct care aides. They provide independence, allowing her to stay in her home, which her family thinks is lifesaving.

“It’s essential for her because she would just die in a nursing home. They wouldn’t take care of her properly,” said Floris Wood, Renee’s husband.

All of this would have to run through the legislature and that’s where places like the Ability Center are focusing its energy.

New York and Maine have proposals in their states to create the minimum wage.

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