WA Lawmakers Address Understaffed Caregiving Industry
Monday, May 22, 2023
Lawmakers guaranteed more than $760 million in their budget to boost wages and benefits for home care service providers.
That means Washington state caregivers will get wage increases of at least 10%. Veronica Tausili is a caregiver for her mother who traveled Olympia with her union - the Service Employees International Union 775 - to push for the wage increases.
She said experienced at-home caregivers will earn more than $25 an hour by the end of their contract and, importantly, caregiver wages will start at $21 an hour - helping recruit and retain them.
"We've lost so many caregivers because of the fact that they can't afford to stay in that position and not get paid," said Tausili. "So this is going to help us with the hiring process and getting people in because we're in dire need of caregivers right now."
The budget funding covers health-care coverage for caregivers' children as well. The Washington state budget also includes a rate increase for nursing homes of nearly $300 million over the next two years.
Tausili said this is critical for addressing understaffing in nursing homes.
Tausili quit her job to take care of her mom when she found out her mom had stage four cancer, which she survived - but Tausili continues to take care of her around the clock.
While some might see this kind of care as a burden, Tausili disagreed.
"This is my life as a caregiver and I love the fact that I can be there with her through everything," said Tausili. "I can say I was with her and I held her hand through everything."
Tausili praised state Rep. Cyndy Jacobsen - R- Puyallup - whom Tausili met with during the session, for her work on this issue. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the budget last week.
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