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LETTER: Caregivers keep having to do more and more with less

As a professional in the area of human services, I have been providing care to some of the most vulnerable adults in Minnesota over the last several years. I have worked for agencies that provide support at home in activities of daily living, support at the work place to provide meaningful, paid jobs, and support to and navigate events and activities in the community.  As members of the disability community, our work enables individuals to create a life for themselves, right here in Detroit Lakes. For the last few years, however, my colleagues have been struggling trying to keep up the same level of care despite numerous cuts to home- and community-based services. The result, unfortunately, is that it always comes down to us to do more with less.

It is abominable to hear about cuts to services, and I know that it will mean more instances where the people who receive our care are at risk due to insufficient resources for hiring enough staff. The average take home pay for Caregivers/ DSPs is at or below a living wage in Minnesota. This underfunding is not enough to keep providing the high quality care our most vulnerable deserve.

I keep hearing in the media how, in just over six years, we will have more people age 65-plus than school-aged children, and the population of people with disabilities and seniors will have skyrocketed. If we are struggling now, what will we possibly be able to do then? The overall budget and priorities for our state must reflect these changing demographics, and help the amazing DSPs/caregivers I work side by side with continue to provide quality, compassionate care.

A five percent increase will help ensure the quality of all services our elderly and individuals with disabilities receive and help them maintain the life they have created. — Elizabeth Kelly, Detroit Lakes