In Minnesota, numerous group homes have shut down in the past year as a result of labor shortages. This has left family members providing care for their adult children. Parents like the Morellis are caring for their children when they are elderly themselves. Because of staff shortages at his group home for individuals with disabilities, Matt and Eunice Morelli bring their 56-year-old son Marco to their apartment in a senior living complex multiple days a week. Matt and Eunice, who are 90 and 87 years old, are required to provide difficult physical care several days a week.
Unfortunately, this crisis goes beyond Minnesota. It is also affecting more than group homes. I live in Massachusetts, and hiring PCAs has been challenging for me. During my first three semesters of college, I hired a new PCA every semester. When my PCAs didn’t show up, my mother often drove me to class. This often meant my mom had to adjust her work schedule. I always felt like a burden to my mother. Sometimes, my friend also filled in.
In August 2020, I moved into my apartment. My PCA lives with me and provides around-the-clock care. I am fortunate that he is around whenever I need him. I also have a friend who lives five minutes away who I know I can count on. My parents and sister live nearby as well. If I needed them, they could be here in less than an hour.
I am fortunate to have support in an emergency. What would happen if I didn’t have the proper support to live independently? I fear that I would have to live in a nursing home. I don’t want to live there. As a 22-year-old, I wouldn’t feel like I belonged in a nursing home. What about people who don’t have family and friends around to help? I know that not every person has as much support as I do. All disabled people should be able to live their lives the way they want.
I wouldn’t be able to live my life without my PCA. His support allows me to live in my hometown. I wouldn’t be able to shower or dress without my PCA’s help. In the future, I hope to be employed. My PCA would make this possible. I couldn’t work without using the bathroom, eating lunch, or having transportation.
Living at home saves the state of Massachusetts thousands of dollars a year. Unfortunately, working at a fast food restaurant can pay more than a direct care position. Home care employees in upstate New York are paid only $13.20 per hour. Those who work in fast food, however, have been paid $15 per hour in the same area since last summer. Wages in the homecare industry must rise across the country. Many individuals like myself would be forced into institutions without our support staff. This would be much more expensive for the state.
PCAs are more important to me than musicians, athletes, and actors. My quality of life doesn’t depend on celebrities. Wages for support staff, regardless of where they work, must be increased immediately because care cannot wait!
McKay, Morgan. “NY Minimum Wage for Fast Food Workers Raised to $15 per Hour.” Spectrum News , Spectrum News , 1 July 2021, https://spectrumlocalnews.com/nys/central-ny/politics/2021/07/02/ny-fast-food-worker-minimum-wage-raised-to–15-per-hour.
Swanson, Kirsten. “From Group Home to Senior Living. Staffing Crisis in Minnesota’s Disability Services Forces Aging Parents into Desperate Situations.” KSTP, 4 Aug. 2022, https://kstp.com/5-investigates/from-group-home-to-senior-living-staffing-crisis-in-minnesotas-disability-services-forces-aging-parents-into-desperate-situations/?fbclid=IwAR0X_in4zW3tMvGM9KGNSzFAuh_-efpR2hyxFsECBwbE7iA7gm-PPFbVYyQ.
Rey, Michelle Del. “Wages for Home Care Workers to Increase by $3.” Times Union, Times Union, 14 Apr. 2022, https://www.timesunion.com/state/article/Wages-for-home-care-workers-to-increase-by-3-17078683.php.
Totaro, David. “Health Aides’ Low Wages Threaten Home Health Care, a Necessity for Millions.” STAT News, STAT News, 8 Apr. 2019, https://www.statnews.com/2019/04/09/home-health-aides-low-wages/.