I’ve been a disabled person who relies on the help of others for several years now, and the pool of workers trained as caregivers has continued to decrease.
As I write this, more than 10 full-time home health care positions exist within a mile of my location and there is no one to fill them.
The crisis of a lack of home healthcare workers began before the pandemic. But the virus did nothing to alleviate the issues. Job openings multipled and people are suffering alone.
I am just over a month out from losing my primary caregiver due to them continuing their education. They’re my newest caregiver, but informed me when they began they would only be with me 11 months.
My secondary worker issued their notice last night. They’ve been with me for a year and a half, and informed me they’ll be leaving in about nine months.
Why do my caregivers give me such a long notice before they leave? Because they are well-aware of the issues finding replacements.
I’ve been looking for a replacement for my main caregiver for a little over a month now, but other than a couple of interested nibbles, there has been rare activity on the job post.
Health Care Assistants working as in- home caregivers make around $16 an hour as base pay to begin in my area. With experience, further certifications, and even hazard pay added on, that can increase to around $20 an hour. It is a very decent paycheck when 100 to 120 hours a month from one client, and up to 40 hours a week split between multiple clients is factored in.
Nursing Assistants make even more.
Both occupations are in high demand presently and will continue to be in high demand over the coming years and decades.
We currently have a painful shortage of all caregiving professionals.
What does this shortage look like in real terms?
It looks like grandmas and grandpas stuck in beds and recliners in their homes, starving and sitting in urine and feces.
It looks like abject neglect.
What is the answer?
One answer could be right down the street in our high schools.
What if high schools offered two different tracks of education that would certify interested students in either Heath Care Assisting or as a Nursing Assistant?
The skills can be taught in classes that would fulfill the hours and skills requirements for the state. Testing could also be incorporated to assure the teens are prepared for work without having to make those connections outside of the school environment.
Aside from teaching skills that would assist our youth in finding jobs they could build on with further education, the skills involved in caregiving also help prepare the youth for managing households in their future lives.
What DO caregivers do? For each person who has a carer, it can look different, but for most it includes most or all “activities of daily living,” or ADLs. ADLs include, but aren’t limited to: Housekeeping, laundry, bathing, toileting, food preparation and eating. All skills important to know for anyone to run a household.
This is not a complete answer, but it could be one start to helping both disabled and elderly people lead more complete lives as well as teaching our youth the skills they will need to have their best futures.
My youngest caregiver, at age 18 when they began employment with me, has brought a new zest for living into my life. I believe both our communities and our society at a whole could benefit from programs that connect our youth with people in need of compassion.