There is an immutable truth that goes something like this: industries tend to have within their ranks, a single group that does most of the “heavy lifting.” Here’s an example: within the life & health insurance industry, the sales agents do most of the heavy lifting. They not only bring in all the premium dollars, but they are the interface the public sees. In fact, it’s unusual for a policyholder to ever come face to face with anyone BUT the agent. Here’s another, in Microsoft, it’s not Bill Gates that does the heavy lifting, it’s the line-workers who build the computer chassis and mother boards, and the “code jockeys” that translate the binary ones and zeroes that make up an instruction set, to the operational program.
And then, there’s the example of what happens when heavy-lifters are mistreated, neglected or forced to live on substandard compensation. In this dynamic, we start with a gaping loop-hole in a 1974 federal bill that allows a small handful of industries to dodge minimum wage guidelines.
In English please! OK – the bill says a handful of industry CEOs can pay their employees less than they pay their baby-sitter.
Personal Care Attendants in the Long-Term Care Industry are in that handful.
Assisted living care givers, also known officially as personal and home care aides, provide help in both private and public institutions where patients require care and assistance with daily tasks such as bed-making and meal preparations. These assisted living institutions can include mental retardation residences, long-term care wings at general medical hospitals, and sometimes even the patient’s personal home. The average salaries earned by these care givers can vary depending on factors like work environment and geographic location.
The Long-Term Care(LTC) industry is in crisis. But the average American doesn’t understand or see the problem. What most see are the manicured lawns of assisted living facilities; the bus load of CCRC(Continuing Care Retirement Communities)residents en route to a swank casino, or the upgraded menu at a skilled nursing facility.
What they don’t see are the biweekly payroll stubs of the Personal Care Attendant who works in these facilities. Most are also unaware the average Personal Care Attendant is a woman of color with at least one child and no post-secondary education. Most training is on-the-job and minimal.
Job security and future job opportunities are abysmal.
These are the people who comfort our father with Alzheimers and feed our 96-year-old aunt who is dying of cancer. They bathe our grandmothers and often provide emotional support at 3:00 am for a stranger they’ve never met.
And they deserve better. Starting with a living wage.
Is that really asking too much?