ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) – Patricia George loves her job as a home care aide, but she said most people don’t understand the importance of the work she does.
“People think what we do is an easy job,” George said. “We go into people’s houses, we go into the hospitals; we take care of these people. We make bonds with these people where they become like family to us.”
George, who has worked in the care industry for 13 years, gets paid $12.50 an hour. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the combined median income for home health aides and personal care aides was $11.12 per hour.
George is hoping to get more equitable pay — and she’s not alone.
She and other health care workers rallied Wednesday in Rochester to ask Congress to pass the Better Care Better Jobs Act. If passed, the bill would invest $400 billion in home and community-based services.
Kim Gibson, co-executive director of Healthcare Workers Rising, said these services give people a choice of care. She said their clients are worth the investment.
“We have an aging-out community. Rochester itself is aging out, and there are less young people to take care of us,” Gibson said. “If we don’t make these jobs worthwhile for these caregivers, there isn’t going to be someone to care for us when we need care.”
The need is real. New York has had a caregiver shortage that predates the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gibson said the bill will help change the perception of a much-needed industry.
“It provides every individual with dignity and respect and for the work they do every day,” Gibson said.
The bill is part of efforts to improve the care industry as outlined in President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.
George said she’s hoping others will start to appreciate the work that home care aides do.
“We work hard for what we do,” George said. “We take care of our clients, we take care of the elderly. We put our lives up for what we do. We love what we do.”