Fast Company | February 16, 2023
Most businesses don’t know the caregiving status of their employees. Yet 73% of workers have some caregiving responsibility and feel it has adversely affected their careers. Systematically collecting employee caregiver data could yield supportive policies and a culture that spur productivity.
Policymakers, too, must respond to the caregiving crisis. Consider Washington State: Faced with an aging population, escalating Medicaid costs, surging care needs, and a shortage of homecare workers, the state’s leaders, the private homecare industry and SEIU 775 worked together to fix the problem by using data differently. Instead of seeing care workers as a cost to taxpayers to minimize, leaders looked to quality data.
By focusing on making care jobs better jobs—raising wages, improving scheduling, and establishing benefits for homecare workers—the group was able to reduce rampant turnover and attract more care workers. A more stable workforce meant better care. As a result, more people were able to receive care in their own homes, rather than being sent to expensive nursing homes. The innovative public-private sector partnership improved job quality, improved the quality of care, improved quality of life, and cost less—saving taxpayer money.
Homecare worker and SEIU 775 member Brittany Williams now makes $20 an hour, about twice the national average, and has health insurance, retirement benefits, free training, and mental health support as a result of the partnership. And because she lives in Washington State, she has access to the state’s paid sick days, paid family and medical leave, and first-in-the-nation long-term-care benefit programs. “I really like my job,” she said.