Update on Fair Pay for Home Health Care Workers in Vermont

Since the new widget on this blog is featuring the info on how Lynne and I couldn’t legally marry due to the way I am paid for her home health care, the good news is…

TAH DAH —

spouses can now be paid to care for a disabled loved one at home.

YEAH!

So circle the date, we’re hitching up at 11 a.m. on the next Summer Solstice.

And that’s not all.

Since I wrote this dour post this winter, Vermont’s part time state legislature has given state-paid home health care workers like me the right to unionize. We are being wooed assiduously by two very good unions — AFSCME and SEIU — and our election is set for September 9 through 27.

The top concern of the few other home health care workers I have met is to get more hours. Currently even those of us who stay home 24/7/365 with an elder or other loved one are paid for about three hours per day of definable tasks. Laundry. Cooking. Feeding. Dressing. Helping on the stairs. But if you’re just are staying home so this person can have the dignity of asking for a drink when they’re thirsty, that’s not paid time. On the other hand, if the person has trouble swallowing and might choke, that makes you vigilance reimbursable.

The 7,000 or so of us who are paid by the state of Vermont are only part of the home health care community. Others are paid by agencies, such as Visiting Nurses and commercial operations like Home Instead. They are not covered by this bargaining agreement, but we hope to raise the general wage level when we strike our deal this fall.

As to Lynne, she’s doing really well. The other night, as we celebrated the wedding of her niece with a wonderful long-term fiance, my own fiancee came up to dance with me several times. As dancing goes, it wasn’t that much — just sort of holding each other and swaying — but with the right eye contact, nothing else matters.

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