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Business and the Economy

Calls for Wage Increases for Home Care Attendants in Missouri

Walk a Day in my Shoes
Briana Simmons

Cartessie Johnson is a mother of two. Her youngest child lives with her in the home of Ulysses Calloway, who depends upon home care for his day-to-day needs.

The 55-year-old Johnson, who is just five years younger than Calloway, says a raise could help relieve the physical and mental burden of doing so much work for so little pay. She gets emotional about her lack of income and inability to buy things for her teenaged daughter.

“It would very helpful and needed if we can get a raise. I’m not talking about just me I’m talking about the people that take care of people and love on them. You have to love what you do. I do love what I do but my burdens do get heavy because of the thing I need and the things my daughter needs, but I’m not making enough money to do these things,” Johnson said. 

From cooking three to four meals a day to mowing the lawn, Johnson’s duties are “constant and hard work.” She also cares for Calloway’s personal and physical needs.

Walk a Day in my Shoes
Credit Briana Simmons
Cartessie Johnson shows Rep. Norr how she prepares a meal for her client.

Calloway says he lived in a nursing home before but he prefers the independent living service and what he feels is a higher quality of life through the state’s Medicaid-funded Consumer Directed Services program. The service allows 30,000 Missourians who are elderly or have disabilities to continue living in their homes and remain in their communities. 

Home care officials say they want the state to mandate agencies receiving Medicaid dollars to fund the service to allocate more dollars to salary, and say it will not result in higher taxes for citizens.

After two weeks of work, Johnson said she makes $239 at $7.50 an hour. Johnson is one of many attendants across the state requesting an increase to $11 an hour. 

“I would just like to say if they can please get the people that take care of people a raise we’re not asking for much but $7.50 isn’t going to do it when you have a family,” Johnson said.

Several state lawmakers joined home care workers across the state Thursday as part of the ‘Walk a Day in My Shoes’ event, including Democratic Representative Charlie Norr of Springfield.