ragged edge magazine online



Issue 1


OASIS and The Bath Aide


Is your Medicaid agency cutting you off? CMA wants to know




To end aide shortage, improve pay and status

By Sue Rhodes

Sue Rhodes serves on the Portland Metropolitan Human Rights Commission's City/County Advisory Committee on Disability. She is a member of ADAPT.

Even during a period with a much higher unemployment rate than the nation is currently experiencing, in a college town where there was generally an adequate labor supply, the low wages, poor benefits and lack of respect associated with "home health care" occupations made it very difficult to hire good people for these jobs.

" The first "bath aide" who came to work with me, provided by the only home health care agency in Bloomington, Indiana, stole and attempted to cash a $900 check. She was apprehended and later prosecuted and convicted for the crime. The agency had continual trouble finding an aide physically able to do what I needed done; I was dropped and mishandled a number of times.

In 1995 I moved to Portland, Oregon.

I have been the client of six different home health care providers. All have either stopped providing the type of service I need or have completely gone out of business. On my own, I have hired at least eight different individuals, some competent, some incompetent and unreliable. I am currently lucky enough to have an excellent PCA, whom I employ privately.

I have private health insurance; I am not on Medicare or Medicaid. My insurance covers a certain number of visits by a home health aide each calendar year, but I am currently paying for the service myself because I am unable to find an appropriate provider whose services would be covered by my insurer.

In-home services are much less expensive than institutionalization, and it enables recipients to have a much higher quality of life. It is crucial that the U.S. invest in building a strong in-home services infrastructure by improving the pay and status of workers in this industry.

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