This past week SEIU Local 503 home care workers, their clients and supportive community members – including Winning Mark’s Cal Labbe and John Coghlan – rallied across the state to draw attention to the upcoming reduction in hours, and hence essential services, starting in January.
Home care history (PDF) in Oregon has had its ups and downs.
Oregon was the first state in the nation to commit to a home and community-based system of long-term care for seniors and people with disabilities. A decade ago turnover for workers was at 200% a year. Dramatic improvements started in 2000 when voters passed a ballot measure to create the Oregon Home Care Commission. One result: home care workers unionized and in six years the workforce stabilized, with turnover reduced by more than two-thirds. The Oregon model of home care has been emulated across the nation. In 2010, Oregon increased the program to include service providers for adults with developmental disabilities among others.
Today, however, workers that provide essential services to our seniors and people with disabilities face dramatic cuts is hours and health benefits. That would also mean a sharp reduction in the quality and level of care for Oregon’s most vulnerable.