Creating good home care jobs will help ensure quality home care and save taxpayer dollars
Placing Missouri on a path toward improved healthcare for thousands of its seniors and people with disabilities, 13,000 home care attendants in Missouri’s consumer directed home care program have voted to join the Missouri Home Care Union, a statewide union of home care attendants.
The vote passed by a landslide margin of 85% Yes to 15% No.
“I’m thrilled. This is fantastic news for Missourians who need home care and for caregivers like me,” said Salem attendant Threasa Bach. “The next step is to join forces with consumers to make home care better and available to more Missourians.”
Home care attendants from across the state voted in the historic election through special mail-in ballot starting on June 29. The election was conducted by the state Board of Mediation and was the largest of its kind in Missouri history.
Currently, home care attendants do not have health insurance benefits, despite being caregivers themselves. They also receive no sick days or vacation time. Many of the consumers in the state struggle to keep caregivers on the job, as 40-60% of attendants leave their positions every year for jobs with benefits or higher compensation.
“This is a new day for Missouri home care, one that will go a long way toward strengthening home care by helping attendants win the pay and benefits they deserve,” said Richard Blakely, Executive Director of Disabled Citizens Alliance for Independent Living. “I am honored to be on the Missouri Quality Home Care Council and look forward to working with consumers and attendants across the state to build a stronger consumer directed home care program.”
The announcement is also good for Missouri taxpayers. Home-based care is more cost-effective than institutional or nursing home care. With the number of elderly Missourians expected to rise more than 70 percent in the next twenty years, the demand for home care services will skyrocket. Investing in the creation of good home care jobs will help ensure a stable workforce of reliable home caregivers is in place to meet the demand and ensure older Missourians can remain in the setting they prefer, their homes.
“With a united voice in Jefferson City, attendants will now be able to make the kind of improvements that attract and keep caregivers – and that helps people with disabilities,” said consumer Marilyn Hicks of Niangua. “Missouri needs to invest in home and community based services, and now attendants will help make that happen.”
In November, Missouri voters passed Proposition B by 75 percent, which created the eleven-member, consumer-led Quality Home Care Council make it easier for people who need home care to find and keep a caregiver they can depend on. The Council will offer voluntary trainings and establish a statewide registry and backup system for times when regular caregivers are unavailable. It will negotiate with workers over wages and benefits.
Representing more than 13,000 home care attendants, the Missouri Home Care Union is the largest healthcare union in the state. It is a joint effort by AFSCME and SEIU. Our mission is to improve and expand quality health care and to protect and improve the lives of all working families.