Daily, tens of thousands of Maine workers provide vital daily supports and services to older people, people with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities, and people with behavioral health challenges, to ensure they thrive in their homes and community settings.

That said, weekly at SeniorsPlus we cannot find 10,000 hours of personal care coverage. This means older qualified Mainers and people with disabilities are going without care they need. Most are at risk of being seen in a hospital or moved unnecessarily to nursing home care.

COVID has brought this crisis to the forefront. Across Maine, the current workforce is discouraged, and exhausted staff are leaving for higher-paying and lower-risk positions. This vital worker base has been ignored and underpaid for years and the reality is that now, thousands of Mainers are going without services.

• Currently, 1,114 older Mainers are on the Homemaker Program (independent support services) waitlist and 240 enrolled people have no staffing.

• Nearly 1,000 older people, and people with disabilities, are waiting to receive home support services under Section 63 and Chapter 11.

• There are 2,000 people with intellectual disabilities on waitlists for Section 21 and 29. They are eligible for services but can’t access essential care because programs can’t hire enough staff.

• Over 600 children are on waitlists for Section 65 Home and Community Treatment.

LD 1573 will assist in addressing a need that only continues to grow. It’s time to invest in the workforce that makes these services available; without them, we all lose.

Heather Davis, Augusta, chief operating officer of SeniorsPlus

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