Caregiver shortage is rooted in poor pay
To the editor:
Lynn Pandell, executive director of Home Care Services of Massachusetts, is absolutely right for saluting caregivers who support the elderly and inform in their homes (letter, Nov. 5.) Our gratitude is with the caregivers, but our frustration is with the home health care agencies.
Our experience working with five different agencies over several years to keep our elderly mothers at home has been a revolving door of caregivers. In a week's time there may be as many as six different aides. Many times caregivers do not show up, cancel at the last minute, or the agency has forgotten to schedule someone. The aide is then sent in with no orientation. Imagine how confusing this is to the client who may not be feeling well, may be hard of hearing, blind or have memory issues. Often we have had to miss or be late for work or appointments, or rush home at lunchtimes to fill in gaps at the last minute. What about the homebound with families?
Caregivers love their profession and the relationships they form with their clients. A big part of the problem, according to the caregivers, is low pay and poor or no reimbursement for their travel time to clients, who can be miles apart.
The shortage of caregivers is a major issue for the disabled and the growing senior population. We hope that Ms. Pandell's organization can find answers to these problems. Raising the pay for caregivers is a start.