The one unanswerable question adults with disabilities ask

Here in California we have some of the best-if not THE BEST-social services and support for the disabled in the United States.

But that doesn’t mean that everything is working, and that no one will fall through the cracks.

In our work with the disability community and programs like In Home Support Services (IHSS) one question gets asked more than any other by our adult clients.

“Where can I find a home care provider?”

For those with family members who do the care that keeps you in your home rather than an out of home placement, consider yourself blessed. But even these have to ask-What happens as my parent’s age? Or as their health declines?

Available home care workers are at an all-time low and in many areas it’s becoming a problem as hospitals and nursing facilities begin to take in people who are not sick and should be able to stay at home with support.

What’s the problem? And are there any solutions?

1. Post Covid Burnout: The medical community all across the board is experiencing staff shortages. Nurses who experienced burn out during Covid never came back, and home health nurses have filled some of those positions creating a shortage of trained home nursing support.

2. Low Wages: Home care workers are among the lowest paid workers in California, often earning below the minimum wage. This low pay makes it difficult for workers to make a living in this field and thus makes it difficult to attract workers to positions. 

In January 2023, IHSS raised the providers pay all across the board in an attempt to encourage more people to sign on as providers.

3. Limited Benefits: Home care workers are often denied access to health benefits, retirement benefits, and other benefits that are common among other professions. This contributes to the difficulty in recruiting and retaining workers.

CalSavers is a new retirement savings program which California put in place to help home care workers save for their future.

4. Lack of workplace job satisfaction: Home care workers are often not given the same respect and recognition as other professionals. They are often subject to workplace injuries and abusive behaviors. This contributes to a lack of motivation to stay in the field and further exacerbates the shortage of home care workers.

5. The need is too great: Many home care workers are untrained for the level of needs they will face with their clients. Paramedical needs, high anxiety moments, violent behaviors, and dangerous situations leave many feeling they cannot give the level of care. Often they move to another profession.

6. No chance for advancement: Many who start out as home care workers are doing it for college credit or practical experience in order to move into a field of work that they can pursue as a career. Home care worker is seen as a stepping stone to a career rather than a career path.

So we can define the problem, and some small steps have been taken to help. But not enough.

And the unanswerable question remains.

“Where can I find a home care provider?”