UCLA Labor Center

New Report Finds Seniors and People with Disabilities Struggle to Pay for Home Care, Workers Suffer

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WEDNESDAY, MAY 17, 2017

Media Contact: Citlalli Chávez, citlallichavez@ucla.edu, 714-742-1581

New Report Finds Seniors and People with Disabilities Struggle to Pay for Home Care, Workers Suffer

LOS ANGELES – A new report, Struggles and Support: California’s Homecare Employers released by the UCLA Labor Center, Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employer Network, Pilipino Workers Center and Senior Disability Action finds that  the need for home care continues to expand in the state. Despite the demand for this work, a shortfall in public homecare funding is causing individuals and families to live without the care they need to live safely and independently while homecare workers receive inadequate compensation for their services.

Home care allows seniors and people with disabilities to live independently, age in place, manage their care, attend school, work, and participate in all aspects of community life. “Without my attendants I would probably be forced to live in a care facility, separated from my friends, family, and community. I would definitely have a much lower quality of life. Like many other people with disabilities, this threat terrifies me,” explained Melissa Crisp-Cooper, report co-author and member of Hand in Hand: The Domestic Employer Network.

According to the study, more than half (61%) of survey respondents receive government support for homecare, yet, 1 in 5 of these respondents still pays a portion of workers’ wages. “Our results indicate that the financial support California’s seniors and people with disabilities receive is not sufficient. ” explained Lucero Herrera, report co-author and Research Analyst at the UCLA Labor Center, “The U.S. is far behind other industrialized nations in providing government support for seniors. This is a problem not just for our state but also our country.” Of those surveyed, 39% of employers pay out-of-pocket for their care and almost a third do not have outside financial assistance such as retirement, savings, or long-term insurance.

The lack of sufficient funding and affordability impacts those providing the support. Almost half (48%) of homecare employers pay low wages, defined as less than two-thirds of the full-time median wage in California. “We find our report’s results troubling because these low wages are impacting primarily women of color who allow our state to thrive. Workers that are supporting seniors and our loved ones struggle to care for themselves and their families,” explained Aquilina Soriano Versoza, report co-author and Executive Director of Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California (PWC). According to the report, low wages increase turnover in the industry and make these jobs difficult to fill.

While the homecare industry is plagued with low wages, the study finds that about two-thirds of employers would like to pay workers higher wages but they are unable to without additional government funding or tax breaks. “We know that most employers establish personal and intimate relationships with workers so they want to treat and pay workers fairly,” explained Jessica Lehman, report co-author and Executive Director at Senior Disability Action, an organization that mobilizes and educates people with disabilities to fight for individual rights and social justice, “yet, we can’t do it on our own. We should be thinking big–of universal long term care that’s accessible to all.” Currently, income limits who gets government funding and locks out many who need support.

To address the challenges facing homecare employers and workers, report authors recommend, among other solutions, universal long term care, expanding income criteria so that more people can access funding which was recently passed in San Francisco and tax subsidies for those that pay out of pocket. “Our report demonstrates that both employers and workers could benefit from greater government support yet we see that contemporary efforts to reform the healthcare industry could only increase the challenges we outline in our report,” explained Herrera, “Current federal plans to reform the Affordable Care Act and Medicaid will hurt seniors and people with disabilities.”

The report was based on 327 surveys of home care employers collected via phone, the web, and in-person throughout the state of California. The study was written in collaboration with Caring Across Generations.

Download the Full Report Here: https://www.labor.ucla.edu/publication/cahomecareemployers/

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The UCLA Labor Center believes that a public university belongs to the people and should advance quality education and employment for all. Every day we bring together workers, students, faculty, and policymakers to address the most critical issues facing working people today. Our research, education, and policy work lifts industry standards, creates jobs that are good for communities, and strengthens immigrant rights, especially for students and youth. The UCLA Labor Center is housed in the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, a multidisciplinary research center dedicated to the study, teaching, and discussion of labor and employment issues at UCLA.