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Will Care Worker Shortage Spur State Legislators to Act?

Most of us would prefer to age at  home, in the community we know and that knows us. At some point in our lives, receiving help in our homes may make all the difference in how long we can do so. The networks and systems for accessing and arranging in-home supportive services have never worked perfectly but now the care worker shortage has become a crisis of broad concern.

State legislators and their aides are briefed on home care issues.

State Senator Pat Jehlen, Chair of the Elder Affairs Committee, noted in her December 2022 newsletter that there are nearly 5000 older people across the Commonwealth who qualify for public home care services, but aren’t receiving them because of a shortage of workers and many hundreds of patients in hospitals waiting to be discharged to nursing homes that can’t accept them because of staff shortages.

The shortage of care workers is a problem rooted in history and culture, as a groundbreaking study by the Boston Foundation shows. It will take leadership from many sectors to reform a system that isn’t working now and won’t be able to meet the growing needs of our society.

Legislation filed on Beacon Hill this session addresses the crisis on three fronts:

SD854/HD213 aims to improve the working conditions and compensation of home health care workers.

SD402/HD834, SD1244/HD2564, and SD1042/HD3451 aim to improve nursing home care and the working conditions and compensation for nursing home employees

SD1974/HD3284 would allow spouses serving as caregivers to be compensated and SD936/HD2376 would provide a tax credit to help unpaid family caregivers mitigate their out-of-pocket expenses.

Cape and Islands voters have elected a hardworking, accessible and responsive delegation to represent us on Beacon Hill. But our elected officials won’t know which of the many, many bills filed this session to prioritize if we don’t let them know which ones are important to us. Legislation alone won’t fix the crisis in care work, but state law-making is one arena in which we can all have a voice.

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