Put Care First is a campaign dedicated to ensuring quality care for nursing home residents and those they care for.
Just over two years ago, Californians were ordered to stay at home to halt the spread of COVID-19. Our lives haven’t been the same since. But one thing hasn’t changed—the conditions that made nursing homes more dangerous than any other place during the pandemic. The global disaster revealed but did not change this fundamental problem: nursing home residents and their safety have taken a back seat to profits.
Nearly 10,000 residents and workers in California nursing homes died from COVID-19 and over 160,000 contracted the virus. This didn’t just happen because vulnerable elderly and disabled residents were concentrated in nursing homes. Profit-driven corporations created work conditions, dangerously low staffing levels, and living environments that functioned as dry brush and hot wind to the COVID-19 wildfire, specifically:
- Sending staff to work with inadequate or non-existent protective equipment
- Low pay that forced nursing home workers juggle multiple jobs, giving the virus more exposure
- Too few staff members to give patients the care and dignity they deserve, and staff so exhausted and emotionally spent they are leaving the industry in droves.
Meanwhile, nursing home owners found even new ways to profit from the pandemic. Hundreds sought state regulators’ permission to operate short of newly established legal staffing guidelines. The most ruthless actually kicked residents out to make room for clients who would bring in more government money. Billions in state and federal bailouts went into executives’ pockets rather than stabilizing a dwindling workforce.
Championed by the hard-working members of SEIU 2015, Put Care First is focused on highlighting the current crisis in our nursing home industry today and calling on our leadership to do something about it. The pandemic laid bare the problems in this industry. Nursing home workers and residents lost their lives due to safety issues. Now workers are leaving the industry in droves due to dangerously low staffing, unsafe working conditions, and low wages.
Our seniors can’t afford to go without the quality care they need—and Californians don’t want them to. Our fight is one for seniors, one for caregivers, and one for all of our future selves. We must fix this broken industry before it’s too late.
To learn more about SEIU 2015 and their efforts, visit https://www.seiu2015.org/.