Home care workers provide support to people with disabilities and older adults so that they may receive care and remain in their own homes. Widely preferred by care recipients and the aging adult population, home care is one of the fastest-growing jobs in the country. Yet home care workers – who are disproportionately women, and Black, Indigenous, and people of color – are under-paid and undervalued, contributing to chronic staffing shortages and high turnover in the field.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, some states used the emergency influx of federal Medicaid dollars to implement hazard pay, a significant but temporary increase in home care workers’ wages. This case study is based on in-depth interviews and a statewide survey sent to 42,000 caregivers and completed by 5,307 caregivers who received hazard pay in Washington State. It provides evidence that even a $2.50 increase in home care wages yields significant measurable improvements in caregivers’ housing and food security, access to healthcare, mental health, savings, and well-being – as well as their ability and willingness to take and stay in these critical jobs.
The above excerpt was originally published in SEIU 775.
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