MAINE, USA — Starting Jan. 1, direct care workers in long-term care facilities will get a raise.
On Wednesday, Gov. Janet Mills announced a plan to increase MaineCare reimbursement rates for more than 200 residential care facilities, which will pay for this wage increase.
The minimum wage for direct care workers will be 125% of the state’s minimum wage, which is $12.75 an hour next year.
State lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the pay increase earlier this year, and funding was included in the governor’s budget.
“Providing quality care for Maine’s most vulnerable people takes commitment and compassion. Our nurses, direct care workers, and assisted living staff have proven they have both, especially during the pandemic,” Mills said in a press release.
“This is really welcome news as we have the ongoing fight against the pandemic. It’s far from over. It’s been two long years that direct care workers in long-term care settings have been battling COVID,” Angela Westhoff, President and CEO of the Maine Health Care Association, said.
Mills also announced an additional $7.6 million in the budget to be used as a supplemental wage increase through 2022.
The goal is to relieve some of the financial burdens many nursing homes across the state face and keep people working in those jobs.
“It’s no secret that there are staffing shortages in many sectors, but in particular, the long-term care industry has been hit really hard during the pandemic,” Westoff added. “Some sectors have seen recovery where they have been able to recruit and replace lost workers, but we just aren’t seeing that. That bounce-back in Maine nursing homes and residential care facilities just isn’t there, so we have been really struggling with the workforce shortages, and we hope that this will help.”
The Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan dedicated $500,000 to recruiting direct care workers.