About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
What is the top challenge facing in-home care in your city, and what is your proposed solution?
Essay response by Kaylee Breeding, Boise State University
In-home care is an amazing service that many retired folks are able to have Medicaid pay for. As is known, with age comes comfort in familiarity. Getting older can be a confusing time, and it only gets worse when families have to decide how to care for their elderly loved ones. Nobody has time in their modern, fast-paced lifestyles to be able to care for the elder family members. This leads to deciding between only a few options. Either put the family member into a retirement home, move them into your house, or find an in-home caregiver. It isn’t too hard to decide which is the best option for the overall health and well-being of this elder. In-home care provides comfort and care in the home of an elderly, which is a seemingly a win-win scenario, but there are problems with this system.
Over the summer, I worked for an in-home care company. There is no doubt that I could have picked up as many hours as I wanted to, but unfortunately, the cons of the job outweighed the pros. First, I did not have the seniority to be able to pick and choose the areas that I got to work. Second, there was no re-imbursement for my gas to drive my clients around, which was required by my company. Third, I could not accept gas money from the clients. I am not a greedy person, but when I’m paying just about as much for gas per week as I am getting paid, there is no way that I can keep up with other expenses.
Though I know I am a fairly inexperienced CNA, I still can’t afford to work for nearly nothing. Being a caregiver is a tough and yet rewarding job. The bond between client and caregiver is exquisite, but many factors affect that relationship. When I found out that the company I was working for was paying me less than half of what Medicaid was giving them, I was less than pleased. When I was hired, I was told that I would be getting paid a certain hourly wage. It wasn’t until after I got my second paycheck of working 32 hours a week that I realized I wasn’t getting the wage I was hired at. When I asked, it turned out that not only was I already making less than half of what the company was being paid, but I was making even less for the majority of my hours because Medicaid considered me a homemaker. I also was expected to drive my clients to and from the store when they needed me to, but was not reimbursed for gas, nor was I provided a company car. I am not the type of person to turn someone else down, so when they would ask me to take them to the store, I would agree because their happiness meant more to me than my expenses. I was racking up the miles on my car, and spending more than a significant amount on gas. My paychecks did not seem to make up for wear and tear.
I think the biggest issue currently with in-home care is that caregivers are not being paid what they deserve. Even putting myself aside, I see the type of work that other care providers do and it is a very selfless job. It is sometimes the type of work that nobody wants to do, but most of the time, CNAs are able to do it with smiles on their faces.
I feel as though CNAs should be paid a higher percentage of what Medicaid pays the company than what the company receives. I see the other side of it too, though. I know a company has expenses that they have to maintain, but it is not them that is doing all of the manual labor. I don’t want to be perceived as being greedy because truthfully, I am not even trying to put myself in the equation. This is not the type of work that I do anymore, but for those who do, I believe they deserve more of a benefit from their companies.
Kaylee is a freshman at Boise State University majoring in Health Science Studies.