Yesterday, I read a social media post about an MCO (Managed Care Organization) that recommended that someone live in a nursing home. Health insurance companies shouldn’t suggest nursing homes as an alternative to living in the community. Many disabled people can live in their communities if they are given the proper support.
Across the country, there is a lack of housing and personal care assistants for people with disabilities to live in their communities. At 18 years old, I was beginning to wonder what my future would be like. It’s difficult for anyone to figure out adulthood, even more so when you have a disability. I often wondered what my adulthood would look like. I knew that I didn’t want to live in a nursing home. Nursing homes aren’t meant for an 18-year-old. The vast majority of residents would be old enough to be my grandparents.
Accessible housing is also challenging to find in the United States. In February 2020, Apartment List conducted research using information from the American Community Survey and the American Housing Survey. Only 9% of households with a disabled family member reside in an accessible home, the study finds. Despite the fact that more than 15% of American households have a member who is physically disabled, just 6% of homes are accessible. Independent living has several challenges, not the least of which is finding an accessible home
I’ve lived in my own apartment since 2020. My friend is employed as my PCA, which works well for us. It can be hard to find home healthcare workers. This is due, in part, to low wages. PCAs and other home healthcare professionals in the United States are paid just $13.02 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
According to the New York Times, home care employees in six states make an average of just $11 per hour. In addition, one in five of them is below the federal poverty line. Sometimes, fast food jobs pay more than home care positions. Home healthcare workers let people with disabilities stay in their homes. Wages need to increase to attract more potential employees.
Medicaid pays for my PCAs. I live in a state with no waiting list for home and community-based services. In other states, the waiting list can be years long. In Texas in 2015, 232,068 people with disabilities were on the waiting list for home and community-based services. Thirty-five states had waiting lists in 2015. Waiting lists need to be eliminated so people can get the help they need.
Disabled people shouldn’t be forced to live in a nursing home or other facility. We deserve to live in our communities with our friends and family. Everybody has a right to live life as they choose. There should be enough support so that all disabled people can live in the community rather than being forced into a nursing home or other segregated setting.
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.
“Number of Persons on Medicaid 1915(c) HCBS Waiver Wait Lists, 2016.” Center On Disability , Center On Disability , 31 Dec. 2016, https://centerondisability.org/ada_parc/utils/indicators.php?id=9.
Warnock, Rob. “How Accessible Is the Housing Market?” Apartment List , Apartment List, 19 February, 2020, http://www.apartmentlist.com/research/how-accessible-is-the-housing-market.