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Lifetime Assistance raises caregiver wages

Inside Creative House

About 1,200 caregivers at Lifetime Assistance group homes will see their wages increase on June 18. The caregivers look after more than 1,800 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities at 70 group homes in the region.

The raises will be retroactive to January, and the money is coming from COVID-19 relief funding, according to the company’s senior vice president, Ernest Haywood.

“They are the heart and soul of what we do. TThey are there day in and day out 365, 24 hours a day to provide for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are learning to be as independent as possible but need the support of dedicated staff,” said Haywood. 

A study by the City University of New York shows that more than half of home aid workers in New York state struggle financially, relying on Medicaid and public assistance. Nearly 20 percent of home aide positions are unfilled.

“Underfunding is a national crisis with direct support,” Haywood said. “We have aggressively pursued multiple alternative funding sources so we’re pleased to announce today the increase in pay.”

There is higher demand for caregivers than there are workers, and 1,000,000 home aide positions will need to be filled by 2026, according to the CUNY study. There already is a high turnover rate, with low wages for a high-stress job.

As of last fall, there were worsening staff shortages reported by 85% of state home care agencies.

Advocates and state lawmakers are pushing for more state funding for caregiver wage increases through the Fair Pay for Home Care Act, which is currently in committee.

According to Lifetime Assistance, the pay raise breakdown is as follows:

  • The new residential services pay rate will be $15.75 an hour.
  • The residential services shift differential will increase 65 cents an hour effective immediately.
  • The new residential relief pay rate will increase from $13.10 to $15 an hour.
  • The new day services relief pay rate will increase from $12.50 to $14 an hour.
Noelle E. C. Evans is an education reporter/producer with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.
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