On Tuesday morning, rallyers at the Colorado State Capitol said there’s a critical shortage of home health care workers in our state. And as Colorado’s population ages, there will be a 40% increase in demand for those workers.
New data published in the journal Health Affairs shows, namely, women of color are affected by this worker shortage. As families struggle to make ends meet making $15 per hour in this industry, many are leaving for other jobs.
CBS4’s Mekialaya White spoke with one worker who she had to seek employment elsewhere after 20 years as a home health care worker because it was too difficult to provide for her family.
“We are taking care of people and can’t take care of ourselves, it’s not right it’s just not right,” said Kasondra Mathews. “When bills aren’t getting paid you have to (move on).”
Mathews says she’s one of the more fortunate workers.
“We see home care workers who are homeless living out of their cars, getting gym memberships to take showers so they can go to work. You have agencies out there who are profiting off of people needing care,” said Melissa Benjamin, Organizing Coordinator for Colorado Careworkers. “If a worker provides dignity, shouldn’t that person be able to have dignity?”
She continued, “We have women of color stretched so thin.”
That’s why she and other organizers laid sets of scrubs laid across the West lawn of the Capitol, representing nearly 360,000 home health care workers that left the industry last year. She’s asking for a Colorado Home Care Worker Bill of Rights as a remedy.
“Livable wages, people getting paid on time every time, travel time so they’re not running their only car into the ground… benefits… workers need to be able to take a day off if they’re sick, they need to be free from harm,” said Benjamin.
CBS4 reached out to several local home health care companies for a response, and to get their thoughts on what workers are saying. No reply yet.