Disability assistance workers in Utah, and the disabled, suffering from lack of funding
SALT LAKE CITY — Advocates for the disabled in Utah, and disability assistance workers, say a lack of state funding is badly impacting people in need. Specifically, they say that pay for disability workers is so low, long-term care centers can’t find enough people to fill the jobs.
And this is leading to some disabled people being neglected and missing basic services. They’re also missing meals and, in extreme cases, being kicked out of their homes.
Disability assistance industry and “the great resignation”
Utah’s unemployment rate still hovers around 2.1 percent. But Workforce Service officials say spots would be unfilled even if the 50 thousand people currently looking for work in Utah became employed tomorrow.
The disability assistance industry is not immune from “The Great Resignation.” Or, the recent period where workers left jobs for better pay and opportunities. Neil Allred with Northeastern Services says the average wage for someone working in this field is $12.50 per hour, which is not enough to attract quality workers.
“If we can’t provide services, there is nowhere for [many disabled people] to go,” Allred said.
Cedar City resident LuWenn Jones has seen staffing shortage problems at the disability center where her daughter is treated. She says new workers are coming and going so quickly, she doesn’t always have time to learn their names.
Jones believes this industry attracts people with kind hearts. Still, the industry is underfunded. It has been underfunded for many years, she said.
“I cannot fault them for pursuing other career opportunities when their beginning wages are relatively low, even in a better economy, and relative to the difficult work they’re tasked with,” Jones said.
Turnover in disability industry impacting patient care
Mike Menning has a non-verbal son who has developed his own method for communicating with others. But it takes time for people to understand it. With so many workers leaving, Menning doubts whether new employees truly know the best way to treat his son.
Menning says the center is so understaffed, workers have decided to put his son back in diapers. He says his son knows how to use the bathroom with assistance.
“They’re forcing him to wet his pants and to soil his pants, and that is because of state policy,” Menning said.
The state received federal funding which boosted salaries for some disability service workers to $17.50 per hour. The $40 million could raise all salaries to the same level, advocates say.
Menning believes they should be asking for more.
“The way that inflation is going in this state … in this country, I should say, even if we get to $17.50 with the $40 million, we’re going to have the same problem in two years,” he said.
- Opinion: Looking at disability differently
- Provo planning first-of-its-kind apartment project for adults with autism
- Utah sets pandemic safeguards for people with disabilities
We want to hear from you.
Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.
Today’s Top Stories
- Drug Enforcement Administration warns of new substance appearing in Utah
- Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square will be joined by international singers this weekend
- Lawyers of man who lost lawsuit against Gwyneth Paltrow may try for new trial
- Meteorologist says only a couple more weeks of snow and rain
- Utah company with ties to polygamous group cited for violating child labor laws
- Alta wins the race to 800 inches, more snow expected Friday afternoon
- The search for the caller behind Utah’s 13 school hoaxes
- Church leaders travel the world ministering to all people
- General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
- As the snow melts, cases of canine giardia can increase