Supporting People With Disabilities and Their Caregivers
Several months ago, my blog post addressed adequate compensation for our amazing caregivers. I’m not done talking about it yet. I pledge to continue talking about it until people with disabilities and their caregivers receive the respect and compensation they are due.
You may ask why LBSA and other care providers don’t just pay our people more. We would love to. We don’t get to decide how much to charge for our services; as a licensed Medicaid service the government sets our reimbursement rates. When I say “government,” I mean our legislators who act at the taxpayers’ direction. That’s you and me.
Rates are determined based on dollars available to be allocated, not on the real cost to provide services. We have to take the dollars we receive and determine how to spread them out among the many expenses we have. Currently, staffing is 80% of our expense budget.
We ask our staff members to provide compassionate, risk-laden care every day. Our starting wage is $10 per hour. Hardees, Taco Bell, and other fast food restaurants are advertising starting wages of $12-15 per hour. We can’t compete. Unemployment is at historic lows. Industries are fighting over qualified and competent staff members. Our staff do this critical work because they have hearts of gold. They leave to do other work because they have mortgages, school loans, children to raise, bills to pay.
Our staff members make life-changing decisions every day. They have people’s lives in their hands. This past fall, we had three clients who went through life and death health experiences that continued over several weeks. One person went through several months of needing emergency medical care more than once weekly due to changes in his seizures. Another elderly gentleman required regular health care visits due to intractable infections. A third experienced a major health crisis, also due to infection, and was in hospice with life support removed, before she rebounded and returned home.
At LBSA, we have implemented a pay system where staff members can be eligible for annual pay increases based on their performance evaluations. We set the amount available for increases each year during our budget process. If we don’t have enough dollars to meet our needs, we can’t allocate dollars for increases. It’s better than it used to be and it still doesn’t address need.
What Can You Do?
- Respond to the email you receive this week, telling your legislators to support the Best Life Alliance.
- Continue to support increases in our rates so we can give our caregivers the pay they deserve and need.
- Share this post with your friends and neighbors.
- Encourage them to talk with their legislators as well.
- Sign up for our Engage notifications, so you can support other public policy initiatives.