I am the CEO of ILC, LLC, a residential and community living support agency serving people with disabilities. I have been working in the long-term care industry in La Crosse for almost 20 years.
Our industry has faced so many changes and difficulties throughout the years, on the national, state, and local level. The most pressing of these issues are chronic staffing shortage and stagnant reimbursement rates for our services.
Professional caregiver wages are inadequate for the level of commitment, emotional involvement, and degree of importance of this job. We can’t raise wages due to low reimbursement for services. Some of our employees work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. This alone affects our industry tremendously.
Moreover, it feels like our profession is invisible. In addition to low wages, a lack of Associate degree programs leads to lack of interest, awareness, and respect for our field. It limits the number of applicants who come through our doors. It is so laborious to ensure quality and continuity of services in the face of these struggles.
According to the Department of Labor’s projections, employment in caregiver occupations is expected to grow 15% by 2029 - well above the expected overall job growth of 3.7%. In other words, the demand for caregivers will only continue to increase, placing an even greater strain on our industry.
It’s time to make necessary changes in favor of long-term care on societal and legislative levels to properly recognize, respect, and care for our caregivers.