Many disabled people rely on PCAs to help them with their activities of daily living which can include eating, bathing, and toileting. Being a PCA is sometimes a tough job. PCAs have to help someone with the most intimate of tasks. Imagine having somebody help bathe you. I can tell you that this is not easy and affects my self-esteem significantly. It’s not easy to allow a stranger to help you with such personal tasks at first.
Personal care attendants are often hard to find and retain. In part, this is due to low wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PCAs and other home healthcare workers make a mere $13.02 an hour nationwide. According to the New York Times in six states, the average pay is just $11 an hour and one in five home care workers live below the poverty line. The jobs also offer very few benefits, if any. Massachusetts Medicaid, which pays for my PCA hours, offers paid time off, but no health insurance or retirement benefits.
The home care industry is booming. By 2030, 21% of the American population will be of retirement age, up from 15% in 2014. The job outlook in this industry is much better than in many fields. Between 2020-2030 home care jobs are expected to grow 33%.
The pandemic has only intensified these issues even more. Because many home health care workers work with the elderly, they wanted to do as much as possible to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. A shortage of personal protective equipment has also made the job risky.
Home care workers allow disabled and elderly Americans to live their lives and not live in a long-term care facility or group home. Without their help, many of us wouldn’t be able to get out of bed. Disabled people have a right to enjoy their lives, and PCAs allow us to do that. We should pay them what they deserve!
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.