Help ensure there are enough caregivers for people who are in need

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          As a caregiver, my purpose is to ensure my client’s well-being and health. My job requires me to manually lift my client out of her wheelchair, assist her with dressing, bathing, stretching, cooking, cleaning, and clerical work. In my time of working for my client, Lynn, through In Home Support Services (IHSS), I have struggled to accomplish this exact goal due to understaffing. I have spent numerous hours recruiting by positing the job description on several websites, posting flyers around town, and I even created a Facebook page called Angels Care for Lynn. Even with all of my efforts, I am at a standstill.

    I believe this state funded program is an unattractive job offer to prospects. For instance, I get paid $11.90 an hour (keep in mind this is before taxes), I don’t get paid extra on holidays, and I’ve never had a raise. The process to become an IHSS caregiver is extensive; a typical caregiver will receive their first paycheck after two full months of working. This is unacceptable and unheard of for anyone who has scheduled bills.

    There have been several times when my client is unable to be cared for and she is left in her bed or wheelchair for up to 18 hours. This is extremely detrimental to her health and leaves me feeling guilty for being unavailable to help her. Typically she is accustomed to a more active lifestyle like swimming, doing adaptive yoga, and therapy horseback riding. She enjoys being an active resident of Santa Cruz. So much so, that she spent a couple of years advocating for a wheelchair accessible trail in her hometown. If she is unable to have enough caregivers through IHSS, she will be taken out of the community and put into an assisted living complex.

Governor Jerry Brown can fix these flaws by first raising the wage to reflect the varied levels of work caregivers provide. Next, adopting common employment practices such as offering holiday pay and implementing scheduled raises. Lastly, providing an effective employment process that can allow their workers to be paid in a timely manner.

Lynn, like the thousands of people relying on IHSS, are without care. I am urging Governor Jerry Brown to make this organization a priority so that people like Lynn don’t have to worry if someone will be able to get them out of bed in the morning.



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