New campaign launched to enhance independence and choice in Rhode Island’s home care system

Advocates urge passage of legislation ahead of a growing demand from an aging population.

STATE HOUSE – Legislators, senior advocates, home care workers and allies today announced the launch of the Rhode Island Campaign for Home Care Independence and Choice, an effort to provide seniors and individuals living with physical disabilities more options when determining their long term care setting.  The new campaign announced its support of passing legislation in 2018 that would create an “Independent Provider” option, a successful home care model in several other states including Massachusetts.

Currently Rhode Island lags behind several states with Independent Provider models in terms of providing access to consistent high quality home care.

Sen. Maryellen Goodwin (D-Dist. 1, Providence), the Senate sponsor of the bill (2018 S-2734), said, “Presently, Rhode Island ranks 42nd in the nation in terms of investment in home care. 90 percent of older Americans prefer home care. Not only is it more comfortable for seniors, it’s more cost-effective, as we’ve seen in states like Massachusetts.  High-quality home care is what people want, and it saves money. We’re proud to support this effort to help make excellent home care available to more Rhode Islanders.”

Expanding access and choice in long term care settings is critical for the aging baby boomer population.  By 2035, it is expected one in four Rhode Islanders will be over 65.

Rep. Christopher R. Blazejewski (D-Dist. 2, Providence), the House sponsor of the bill (2018-H 7803), said, “There is little question that people prefer to stay in their homes as long as possible. Particularly now, as the over-65 population in our state is rapidly expanding, Rhode Island must shift more of our long-term care resources toward supporting home care. Our legislation will help provide more options for home-based services, enhance access to them and establish standards that assure high-quality care.”

Bill Flynn, Executive Director of Senior Agenda Coalition said, “We know that nearly all seniors, even those living with chronic illnesses or disabilities, have a strong desire to age in their own homes.  Creating an Independent Provider program in Rhode Island will provide a new and proven option for seniors needing home care. It will give seniors the power to hire their own caregivers, and we believe it will improve quality of their care because they will have control of the quality of their own care.”

A comprehensive literature review showed that consumers in states with Independent Provider models experienced higher levels of client satisfaction and autonomy, received more stable worker matches, improved medical outcomes, and reduced unmet need with agencies delivering fewer hours of care relative to the needs of the consumer.

David Oppenheimer, a North Kingstown resident who struggled to find consistent reliable help for his father through the existing home care network said, “As I get older, long term care is something I am thinking about again. My wife and I hope to live in our home for a very long time.  Having a home care system that is prepared to meet the needs of my generation is extremely important to me.”

High-quality services and care require that caregivers are paid a living wage in order develop and maintain a stable and reliable workforce with low turnover.  Most home care workers in Rhode Island earn between $11 and $12.50 per hour.

Satta Jangaba, a caregiver from Providence, said, “I worked with my home care client for years and we became like family.  I moved on to a nursing home so I can make a better living, but I worry all the time about my client.  Now that I’m not there, she has been passed around to several different CNAs – the agency constantly changes their schedules and my client is left without any care.  I wish I could go back to being her provider, but there’s no way I could afford to live on the $10.50 an hour they paid.”

The Rhode Island Campaign for Independence and Choice is comprised of the following organizations:  Senior Agenda Consortium, RI Working Families Party, RI Organizing Project, District 1199 SEIU New England, RI AFL-CIO, Economic Progress Institute and the RI Chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW).

For more information, contact:
Meredyth R. Whitty, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-1923

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