It’s no secret that there is a caregiver shortage throughout the United States. However, there is also a shortage in other countries. In England, many disabled people are struggling to find PAs as they are known. Baroness Jane Campbell, a cross-party peer, and others have struggled to get PAs in recent years. The Baroness lives with spinal muscular atrophy and uses a wheelchair.
All across England, disabled people can’t find PAs. Anna, who needs a wheelchair due to an energy impairment, has been given a budget for 35 hours of PA help each week. Since her last PA left in June, she has been unable to find a replacement. The lack of PAs also has an impact on personal hygiene and well-being. Anna showers once a week on her own without assistance from a PA. since she lacks the energy to do it more frequently.
Many people point to one specific event in recent history that they believe impacted the landscape of PA work and availability – Brexit. PAs are no longer permitted to work in the UK. They are not currently recognized as “skilled workers.” According to Baroness Campbell, “We need workers from Europe to be able to return to this country to make up the shortage of personal assistants.”
The LGA discovered that low pay or a lack of sick and holiday pay were some of the primary reasons people left their jobs. Because of the high turnover, recruitment may be ongoing. Unfortunately, this problem goes beyond England. In college, I went through three PCAs in as many semesters. My mom and I posted advertisements on Craigslist, Facebook, and the statewide PCA database.
In England, there is little interest in becoming a PA. Katy Etherington says: “We’ve seen PAs say that they’ve left to go and work in a coffee house or as a dog walker because they earn more.” People can sometimes make more working at a fast food restaurant in the U.S as well. Workers can earn equal or better wages at Home Depot or McDonald’s for far less difficult jobs than bathing, dressing, and feeding people.
Low wages are an issue in the United States as well. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, PCAs and other home healthcare workers in the US are only paid $13.02 per hour. One out of every five home care workers, according to the New York Times, lives below the federal poverty line, and they make an average of $11 per hour in six states.
Disabled people around the world rely on home health care workers. They allow people like me to live where we want to, go to work, and go to concerts and other events in our communities. Without them, millions of people would be forced into institutions. The shortage needs to be fixed now because, for millions of people worldwide, care can’t wait.
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.
Rose, Beth. “Disabled People Fear Shortage of Personal Assistants and the Loss of Independence.” BBC News, BBC, 2 Sept. 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/disability-62764550.
Rowland, Christopher. “Seniors Are Stuck Home Alone as Health Aides Flee for Higher-Paying Jobs.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 25 Sept. 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2022/09/25/seniors-home-health-care/.