Lavada Theus: Concerned Citizen, Impassioned Activist
In her roles as an educator, caregiver and political advocate, Lavada Theus has experienced the struggles of senior citizens firsthand. One of her friends suffers from diabetes and has been left disabled and housebound. She has heard coworkers speak of the difficulties they face in caring for aging parents, some of whom are sick and frustrated. But she also understands that with a little help from the In-Home Support Services (IHSS) program, these seniors can lead happy, fulfilling lives. In an article in The Daily Breeze, she wrote about one such senior, Rachell Davis of Compton:
Rachell, who will soon turn 101, enjoys sharing adventures of when she traveled the world, and describing the toys she built when she worked for Mattel. She is happy to still live at home with the help of her caregiver, Maria Rodriguez.
Maria helps Rachell with tasks that she is unable to do because she is wheelchair-ridden, like cooking her meals, bathing her, and keeping her home kept. And when Rachell isn’t actively participating at her local senior center, she enjoys staying active and taking strolls along a trail that she and Maria frequent together.
Lavada’s position as a California Senior Legislature Assembly Member puts her on the frontlines of elder issues, and she knows that quality in-home care is a vital part of many seniors’ lives. So she is disturbed by the fact that low pay and few (if any) benefits has led to a shortage of qualified caregivers. “Seniors like Rachell are at risk of having to fend for themselves as the home care provider turnover rate continues growing at a faster rate than the caseload growth. The turnover rate in Los Angeles County averages more than 50 percent annually as IHSS providers struggle to survive on their current hourly wage of $9.65.”
Fighting for seniors means fighting for those who help seniors. In her work as an in-home care trainer, Lavada helps people understand the important role SEIU Local 2015 has to play in securing a better future for all Californians, young and old.