By Yang, Certified Nursing Assistant
his week there has been a lot of talk in the media about the movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. While most of the attention was focused on fast food workers, advocates for direct care workers took the opportunity to highlight the negative impact that poor wages have upon caregivers and their residents. In an article in McKnight’s, Matt Yarnell, the Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, pointed out that nearly one in six of the state’s nursing home workers are paid so poorly that they are forced to seek public assistance through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, Medicaid or both.
Yarnell wrote “If we are serious about providing the highest quality care for our residents, then we have to back our rhetoric with action. It means we have to provide living wages to caregivers to cut down on turnover, to not force caregivers to work excessive overtime and double shifts. It is about not forcing workers to have to look to the state for public assistance to provide for their families.”
Why are direct care workers so poorly paid? A common argument points to the low educational requirements necessary to work as a caregiver. Often this point of view comes from within the Long Term Care community itself.