Caregiver Shortage, Long Term Care Crisis Absent from Both Debate Nights
Caregivers, Seniors, People with Disabilities Left Hanging After No Presidential Candidates Mention Top Issue Concern for Aging Population
Los Angeles— At debate watch parties throughout California, home care and nursing home workers, members of California’s largest local union SEIU Local 2015, were paying close attention to the presidential candidates to lay out their plans on long term care and the caregiver shortage. Not one candidate raised it.
“There is a crisis in long term care in our country and seniors, people with disabilities, caregivers, and their families are crying for our politicians to help,” said April Verrett, president of SEIU Local 2015. “The demographics are changing, long term care needs are growing, and caregivers are struggling to make ends meet in a workforce that is largely misunderstood and undervalued.”
In California, the population of seniors is forecast to double by 2030 to nearly nine million people, 27 million nationwide. “At this accelerated rate, we need 7.8 million additional caregivers—trained and ready—to serve our aging population, and almost half of them (3.2 million) are needed right here in our state,” added Verrett. “Yet, not one presidential candidate mentioned it either night on the debate stage. It’s alarming the lack of awareness of this crisis in our long term care system.”
Home care and nursing home workers serve as a safety net underneath America’s patchwork health care system, making sure that our seniors and people with disabilities don’t slip through the cracks. This safety net has been torn by policies written by opportunistic politicians and for-profit corporations. The caregiver shortage is fueled by cost-cutting measures, creating low-wage, high-stress jobs that lead to high turnover because workers need to hold a second or third job to support their families.
“Candidates talked about healthcare and how the insurance companies are dictating care, but they missed the chance to talk about those of us on the frontlines every day with our seniors and patients helping them with their pills, getting them to and from their doctors’ appointments and physical therapy, and making sure they can continue to live an independent life,” said Leilani Reed, who has been a home care worker for 12 years. “I want to invite these presidential candidates to meet with caregivers like me in between their campaigns stops in California. We need their attention and hear their long term care solutions for this crisis.”
“How to make long term care an integral part of America’s healthcare system is the debate we need our candidates to be having. They would benefit greatly if they met with our caregivers because no one cares more or advocates more fiercely for their seniors and patients like home care and nursing home workers,” said Verrett.
According to the Pew Research Center, nearly a quarter (23 percent) of the 2020 electorate will be seniors, 65 years and older, the largest share of any age group in the electorate since 1970.