As a student pursuing a health care career, you already know a thing or two about our healthcare system. It’s the most advanced in the world. But there’s room for improvement. Because goodness knows, it has gaps and problems.
There’s a serious issue playing out in Minnesota right now, though few people are talking about it. There’s a worker shortage at ACR Homes and similar organizations that provide residential services for people with disabilities due to a lack of funding. Without enough staff, people with disabilities are starting to lose their spots in these group homes, places they call home, that provide them with the full-time care they need.
Students, we can use your help to contact state legislators about this problem. Read on to find out how.
What is ACR Homes and what do we do?
As a college student in a health care field, you may have heard of ACR Homes.
Many of our direct care professionals (DCPs) spend their undergraduate and graduate years working at ACR as direct care professionals. By caring for our residents, these students gain patient care hours (while getting paid) and have a chance to develop their bedside manner, and develop other important skills. Not all DCPs are students pursuing careers in health care, but they’ve been a great fit for ACR.
What is causing the worker shortage?
For years, ACR has struggled to maintain full staffing levels. The job is challenging and rewarding. But the resources that have been allocated from the legislature aren’t enough provide a competitive wage for staff.
Meanwhile, wages in the private sector have been going up and up. When retail, foodservice and perhaps even some intern opportunities can pay you $16-$22 an hour, we get it. With the cost of rent, tuition, groceries and gas, you need the money to cover those expenses.
What is the result of the worker shortage?
While the wage gap widens, our ability to attract and retain direct care staff becomes more difficult. In January, the staffing crisis forced us to make the decision to close four of our group
homes. That means 17 residents are losing their homes, and they are scrambling to find alternatives for care. That’s not how we want to serve Minnesotans with disabilities.
What can you do to help?
There’s good news here. The Legislature has the power and the resources to turn the page on this issue.
And you can help by taking just a few minutes to give this issue the spotlight it deserves.
Email your state senator and state representative. With this online form, you can locate your legislators and it will take just a couple of minutes.
- Tell them that Minnesotans with disabilities need support now. There’s a worker shortage that’s jeopardizing their homes and the care they need.
- Urge them to allocate some of Minnesota’s $7.7 billion budget surplus to increase funding so ACR can start offering a more competitive wage
- Join in the virtual Disability Services Day at the Minnesota Capitol, set for Tuesday, March 8, 2022 from 10-10:30 a.m.
Spread the word! Tell your fellow students to join you in speaking out for competitive wages to address worker shortages so adults with disabilities can get the care they need.