Why Does Everyone Talk About How We Need To Improve Senior Living But Never Actually Do Anything?
Over the weekend, I was watching some webinars about senior care. I realized that there is so much conversation about what needs to be done to improve the senior living facilities and the care people receive. However, nothing seems to be changing. One of the webinars talked at great length about all the effects of Covid on senior living facilities. The fact that senior living places were struggling with a lack of caregivers and poor quality of care long before Covid means that things are worse now than ever.
Facilities can't find caregivers. Why is that? Some caregivers are burnt out and can't do it anymore, which is entirely understandable. Those people still doing the job make between $12.00 and $15.00 an hour. Many of these people work twelve-hour shifts on their feet constantly. They are often verbally abused by older patients and have to do a lot of heavy lifting. They are responsible for bathing and toileting people and ensuring they are kept clean and treated with dignity. They are often responsible for up to twelve residents on a shift, which could mean many of those using a call button and needing immediate assistance are waiting an exceptionally long time. How can they properly handle that many people at once? One resident may have fallen, but by the time the caregiver can get over there to check on them, a great deal of time has gone by. When my mom was in a facility, she often waited up to forty-five minutes for someone to get there. She couldn't do anything without assistance, so waiting forty-five minutes for someone to take her to the bathroom often resulted in highly embarrassing accidents. Caregivers in senior facilities have one of the most challenging and most necessary jobs in the world.
Why aren't the most crucial jobs in an assisted living facility paid well? If there were more caregivers and they were paid well, then the care of residents would be better, and there would be fewer injuries and complaints. Quality care would be provided, and families would not be complaining all the time. Lawsuits would be significantly reduced. One of the things I kept hearing on these webinars was that the companies couldn't afford to pay the caregivers more because they would have to charge families more money. Senior care is already so expensive that most people can't afford it.
I guess it would be surprising then to know that the CEO of one of the biggest assisted living companies made $7,087,470 in 2020. Another one made 16.8 million. Feel free to google this information yourself online. It is public knowledge. The executive director position pays somewhere between $61,000 and $117,000. This could be more or less depending on location and bonus opportunities. I would love to hear why corporate executives can't pay caregivers an hourly salary of at least $25.00 without charging families more? If they paid more, they would be able to find more caregivers and pay for it with all the money they would save from lawsuit settlements. How in the world is the one person making $7,087,470 at a company not aware of the need to pay the people that play the most significant role in making the company successful more than they are currently making? These people are doing the hard, physical labor that is at the company's core, providing seniors with a safe, healthy, happy place to live out their later years.
Nothing has changed. Things are worse than five years ago, at least in Illinois. The same issues occurring with my mom are still happening today. One of the senior living facilities I know is looking for the following positions: Caregivers, Certified nursing assistants, concierge, activity manager, sales counselor, LPN nurse, dishwasher, and janitor. How are the people living at this facility receiving proper care and the benefits they are paying for with all of these positions needing to be filled?
Corporate needs to stop doing webinars, writing articles, having conferences, and doing national press, and instead start staffing their buildings adequately and providing the care everyone deserves. Raise the pay and benefits, and you will attract quality people who will work hard and stay. Get some executive directors in these buildings who don't have favorites and work to build a family of staff who supports each other. The pay difference between the top and the bottom employees is just plain wrong.