The executive director of the Maine Council on Aging is urging legislators to move more resources into direct services for seniors, people who are sick, and the homebound as part of preparations for COVID-19.
Jess Maurer says that as cities and towns take steps to curb the spread of the new Coronavirus, the already-sparse supply of direct care workers is shrinking.
“We have a severe and pervasive direct care worker shortage across the continuum of long term supports and services,” she says. “Our homecare and our facility-based care were already stressed literally to breaking before this virus came along.”
Maurer also says that as cities and towns take steps to curb the spread of the Coronavirus the pool of direct care workers is likely to shrink. “With schools closing and a lot of direct care workforce having children, even just today in healthcare home care and facility based care, that workers are calling out, and they won't be able to meet current demand.”
Maurer says the state is going to have to think creatively to meet the need, for example, by streamlining volunteer vetting procedures or providing childcare for essential healthcare workers.
But no matter what, she says the direct care that's going to be needed will cost money. She says the Maine Council on Aging is asking lawmakers in Maine for about $20 million for direct care workers.