A new media release from colleagues at the NC Justice Center:

New report says quality caregiver wages are critical for quality care given to seniors
Fair wages for home care workers improve continuity of care and strengthen the local economy

Low wages for caregivers threaten the quality and consistency of in-home healthcare services provided to seniors, even as demand those services is expected grow exponentially due to the retirement of the baby boom generation according to a report released today. Recent cuts to the Medicaid reimbursement rate for caregiving have contributed to falling caregiver wages and must be addressed in order to ensure seniors receive quality care.

“Direct care occupations, including home care jobs, are some of the fastest growing occupations. But these jobs offer some of the lowest wages in the state,” writes Sabine Schoenbach, author of the report. “Low wages increase worker turnover, increase long-run costs for providers, and interrupt the continuity of care for consumers. Reimbursement by Medicaid programs, in large part, creates the framework in which employers set wages for direct care workers, and North Carolina’s reimbursement rates have been frozen or reduced since 2009 putting North Carolina $4 per hour lower than the national average rate paid to provider agencies.”

Key findings include:

  • North Carolina is rapidly aging – the population over 65 is projected to more than double by 2050. The aging of the state’s baby boomers will correspond with an increase in community members with functional and cognitive limitations, indicating a growing need for direct care that allows community members to continue to live with dignity.
  • Direct care occupations, including home care jobs, are some of the fastest growing occupations, as North Carolina rapidly ages. Read More

Craig Jarvis at Under the Dome has an encouraging story on today’s meeting of a special “blue ribbon” commission. The commission is dealing with the issue (highlighted here at NC Policy Watch on multiple occasions) in which the state has been unlawfully warehousing people with mental illness in adult care homes. 

“The 32-member Blue Ribbon Commission on Transitions to Community Living met for the first time and spent the day at the Legislative Office Building in Raleigh getting up to speed on several pressing issues.

The state is working toward that goal in an agreement with the federal Department of Justice in order to avoid being sued under the Americans with Disabilities Act. A federal investigation alleged that the state wrongly confined thousands of people in adult care homes and institutions. Read More


North Carolina has fouled up yet another opportunity for significant progress in how it treats and cares for people with mental illness. That is the conclusion drawn by the experts and advocates Disability Rights NC this morning in response to an announcement that the state has failed to reach a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice with respect to a “letter of findings” issued by the feds last July.

As is stated in the press release issued by DRNC and reproduced below, the Perdue administration has, sadly, opted for several more years of glacial-paced “progress” on the issue of warehousing mentally ill people in “rest homes” rather than biting the bullet and entering into a bona fide and enforceable agreement as has been done in other states. All in all, a sad day for the cause:


Vicki Smith, Executive Director
Disability Rights North Carolina

State Avoids Enforcement in Its Failure to Reach Agreement with the USDOJ Regarding Its Legal Obligation to North Carolinians with Mental Illness Read More


In case you missed it, a wide array of North Carolina advocates signed on to a letter yesterday from the Washington, DC-based Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. The letter urges Governor Perdue to address the state’s ongoing violation of federal law in its treatment of thousands of people with mental illness by warehousing them in so-called “adult care homes” by working with advocates rather than fighting them.

You can read the letter by clicking here.

Let’s hope the Guv gets the message.