Headshot of Kendra Scalia, a white woman with dark brown hair worn down framing her face, wearing a red sweater and a portion of her black power wheelchair headrest behind her. A large wooden bookshelf with various books is in the background.

Ending the Home Care Crisis

My name is Kendra Scalia and I’m a Hudson Valley Leader with the NY Caring Majority, and a disabled woman using Consumer-Directed Personal Assistance (CDPA) home care services.

Last year at this time I submitted testimony to this Legislature regarding the home care crisis our state continues to ignore. I told you about my experience losing three personal assistants or PAs during the start of COVID and how I had just one PA working seven days per week. I expressed the importance of Fair Pay for Home Care workers – to make it possible to recruit new workers to this field. And I also let you all know that”

“I live in constant fear that should something happen to my personal assistant or should he find a better paying job, my literal independence and freedom will be taken from me overnight.”

I wish I could sit here today and tell you that I’ve hired workers, that I’m able to eat a hot meal every day, and that my fears of institutionalization are quieted. But this body failed to provide the bare minimum attention to slow down the home care workforce crisis last year. And so, today, my fears are being realized. My one PA cut back his hours because he found that better paying job. Not a single candidate in 18 months has accepted a job offer with me for $13.20 per hour. Parts of my independence have been lost, as entire areas of my life I simply can’t engage in.


Testimony by Kendra Scalia of the NY Caring Majority
delivered to the New York State Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Human Services
in support of the Fair Pay for Home Care Act


Because my one PA can only work four hours at night:

  • I’m forced to go without the toilet all day long.
  • I stay in the same position in my wheelchair for 20 hours at a time.
  • I sleep in my wheelchair five nights per week because I have no one to get me out of bed in the morning.

The limited help I receive is packed with bare essentials of survival, such that therapies and treatments are skipped more frequently than they are provided; medical appointments are all but impossible to attend in-person; and

I’ve developed additional medical conditions that could have been wholly prevented were home care worker wages raised because home care is health care.

If you visited my home today you would find plastic bins holding items like remote controls and zip lock baggies of cashews and cheerios. A dozen opened water bottles with straws line my kitchen table from one corner to the other, allowing me the ability to at least stay hydrated while I spend more than 80% of each day without care.

We need Fair Pay for Home Care in the budget (A.6329/S.5374A). Governor Hochul missed this opportunity in the executive budget – proposing one-time bonuses that will not come close to solving the home care workforce shortage. The solution is Fair Pay for Home Care – and we are relying on YOU, our state legislators, to make this happen in the budget. When our workers are paid well, disabled and senior New Yorkers who rely on these skilled workers to live independently are able to fill these positions. We’re able to receive the health care we need to be safe and stay healthy.

The time is now to address the crisis of long term care. I hope next year I find myself back at this budget hearing to tell you about the fabulous personal assistants I was able to hire after you passed Fair Pay for Home Care in this year’s budget; how my health improved and I no longer need these additional medications; and how comfortable my body feels when I am finally able to lay it down to rest on my soft, warm bed every night once again just like all of you.

 

Kendra Scalia

The above was oral testimony delivered to the NYS Joint Legislative Budget Hearing on Human Services in support of the Fair Pay for Home Care Act, which aims to raise home care worker wages to 150% of the regional minimum wage (minimum $22.50/hr) in NYS and provides mechanisms for provider reimbursement rates such that privatized Medicaid plans are required to meet the new minimum wage in their reimbursement negotiations with agencies. The Caring Majority is a group of disabled individuals, seniors, home care workers, family caregivers, home care providers, fiscal intermediaries and disability organizations coming together to address the healthcare crisis in NYS. To learn more about the NY Caring Majority and the Fair Pay for Home Care Act: NY Caring Majority nycaringmajority.orgF

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