Headshot of Chris Graber
Christopher Graber

It’s no business secret that higher pay generally leads to better retention, recruitment and employee satisfaction. In an industry experiencing a worsening workforce shortage and growing needs of the consumer, this is essential.
Direct care workers provide invaluable support services to seniors and people with disabilities. As the pandemic upended the healthcare system, the virus took a deadly toll in nursing homes and direct care workers put their lives at risk to protect the most vulnerable populations by allowing them to receive care in the safety of their own home.
Yet in New York state, most home care workers earn only the minimum wage. In parts of the state, they now earn less than food service workers.
This problem isn’t solely affecting the workforce. Low wages are leaving consumers with fewer suitable options for their home care. They simply can’t find workers because the pay is not high enough.
When the person you hire is responsible for feeding, bathing, dressing, toileting and providing emergency care to you or your loved one, you want them to be qualified.
Thomas Grimes was just 19 years old when he was hit by a car and broke his neck. His injuries left him paralyzed from the waist down and Grimes was terrified of being stuck in a nursing home.
Now, 30 years later, Grimes enjoys life at home with the help of his primary caregiver, Amy Edison.
Grimes says the autonomy to set his personal assistant’s wage gives him maximum independence in his hiring decisions.
“I have the ability to reward longevity and performance, which leads to better retention of staff and less stress for me. I’ve seen my quality-of-care increase and my workers are happier,” Grimes explained.
Paying these dedicated workers a fair wage that compliments the work they perform ensures the consumer is always first by empowering them to choose who comes into their home.

Christopher Graber is the chief executive officer of Consumer Directed Choices (CDChoices), a nonprofit organization headquartered in Albany, NY, that helps seniors and people with disabilities maintain or regain independence by empowering them to manage their own home care.