I’m a nurse’s assistant at a nursing home in Renton. Our workforce has cared for our state’s elderly and sick on the front lines of this pandemic for two years now.
But because the nursing-home sector hasn’t had enough funding to pay us competitive wages, many have quit and short staffing is widespread. In my facility, daytime workers should have 10 individuals to take care of, but now regularly have 14 to 16. It’s not possible to truly care for residents when you have to work at a run.
I’m shocked that our state Senate’s proposed budget doesn’t include funding for nursing homes to increase workers’ wages. The proposed House budget includes a measure to give up to a $4-per-hour wage increase to bring workers back to our facilities. This would go a long way to solve our staffing crisis, but unfortunately the Senate has not yet joined the effort.
Nursing homes were underfunded, even before the pandemic. We are understaffed and overwhelmed, and without funding wage increases, residents are condemned to lower-quality care because enough people aren’t willing to work these jobs.
Long-term care workers are putting our lives on the line. Our legislators can and must do more.
Linda Long, Kent