Several speakers at the April 27 White House Conference on Aging’s regional forum in Cleveland used the event as a platform to discuss low wages in the home health field. The issue is of growing importance as more older adults seek to “age in place” and receive care in their homes, they said.
Caregiver Artheta Peters (right) described working for a Cleveland home health agency for 14 years, during which time her hourly wages never have increased (she makes $8.50 an hour) and she never has received paid time off, sick leave, health benefits or retirement benefits.
“I believe what I do is important,” she told attendees. Unless policymakers and employers treat home healthcare as a career, she added, the industry will experience “huge turnover with no improvement in quality.” She advocated an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) agreed that home health workers are “woefully underpaid.” He said he also would like to see the minimum wage and benefits increased for those performing such work.
Sarita Gupta, executive director of Jobs with Justice and co-director of Caring Across Generations, said that home health work is “real, skilled and valuable.” She participated in a panel discussion about healthy aging and long-term services and supports.
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