As a social worker, I know all the hoops you have to jump through to get into a nursing home in Maine. And even if you do fulfill all the requirements, often the only facility with a spare bed is far from the resident’s home and family. That’s why it’s so important that a citizen initiative promoting home care pass this November.

The universal home care initiative, Question 1, would ensure that all Maine families, regardless of income, have access to home care for their elderly or disabled relatives. The program would be funded by a tax on high-income individuals – specifically, on individual incomes over $128,400, which, because of a loophole in the federal tax system, is money not subject to Social Security taxes.

Wealthy people can afford to bring caregivers into their homes to offer assistance to frail and ill family members. But working families must either exhaust themselves providing the care themselves or apply for MaineCare assistance and put their relatives in nursing homes that may or may not be close to their homes.

It’s also not fair how little home-care workers are paid, considering how difficult and essential their work is. Question 1 would improve wages, benefits and training for these unsung heroes, which is good for them, their families and communities, and will cut down on the high turnover rate that currently plagues the industry.

Home care is not only better for patients and families, but also costs about half as much as a nursing home, research has shown.

Social workers like me have up-close experience with other people’s private struggles. Providing universal home care would ease one particularly heavy burden on working families: caring for a loved one who can no longer care for him or herself. Please vote for Question 1.

Louise Boisvert

Saco


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