ST. PAUL - Minnesotans who provide the elderly and disabled care in their homes and other community-based settings are leaving the profession as wages cannot keep up, caregiver advocates say.
Sounding much like nursing home advocates did a year ago, they said Tuesday that caregivers are taking jobs at fast-food restaurants, in other states and with other health-care providers. Some are even bolting for nursing homes, which received a significant funding boost from legislators and the governor earlier this year.
“It is really going to stabilize a lot of the nursing homes in greater Minnesota,” Rep. Matt Dean, R-Dellwood, said about the new 2015 funding, adding that the $90 million he and Sen. Kent Eken, D-Twin Valley, propose for home and community care givers can do the same for them.
“Home and community bases services were left behind last (legislative) session,” Eken said.
The type of services being discussed Tuesday included providers who care for patients in their homes or in other locations such as group homes. They basically are most types of services short of a nursing home-like setting.
“We need to first and foremost stop the hemorrhaging of the workforce we are losing,” Eken said.
Experts estimate that 3,500 of the 90,000 caregiver positions are open.
Eken said the bill he and Rep. Rod Hamilton, R-Mountain Lake, are sponsoring would give the providers a 5 percent increase, or $90 million. Three-fifth of the increase would go to worker pay raises, while the rest would be used to improve care.
With baby boomers aging to the point of needing more government-provided services, Eken said, “this is a priority. I really see this as being a challenge of our times.”
The increase he proposes, however, is not the end, he said. “I really do see this as a stopgap measure.”
Along with announcing the request for more funding, a group calling itself the 5 Percent Campaign said it has changed its name to Best Life Alliance.