As minimum wage increases, aging agencies use TikTok to hire caregivers
In less than a month, Arizona’s minimum wage will go up again. It’s good news for workers. But in the aging sector, it’s a double-edged sword. The minimum wage is set to go up to $13.85 an hour, statewide on Jan. 1, and $16.80 in Flagstaff. That increase will be felt by Mary Beals-Luedtka, the Area Agency on Aging director for the Northern Arizona Council of Governments.
Her organization subcontracts with agencies that hire caregivers who go into the homes of older adults. So they do things like housekeeping or bathing.
"And what's going to happen if we don't get more funding, okay, for that particular service, and we have to raise these wages, that means less clients will be served," Beals-Luedtka said.
Still she says the minimum wage hike is good news since finding paid caregivers and other staff who work directly for her organization continues to be a challenge given the wages.
Still recruiting and retaining paid caregivers can be difficult. The work doesn’t pay well and it can be physically challenging. Beals-Luedtka says her organization is using TikTok to recruit people.
"Pima Council on Aging did a TikTok for the vaccines, and it was very successful. So we're excited because we are targeting 18 to 30 year olds, in this particular campaign to look at the direct care worker jobs," she said.
Beals-Luedtka says they’re framing this line of work as a stepping stone into health care.
Something else Beals-Luedtka is looking at? For the first time in more than a decade, Arizona will have a Democratic governor.
Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs also has a background in social work, and some advocates in the aging space, including Beals-Luedtka, are hopeful she’ll address the many challenges facing older adults and the organizations that support them.
Arizona has an office on aging but it falls under Gov. Doug Ducey’s office of Youth, Faith and Family, "Which then makes it part of many other coalitions and I think that the state warrants having its own Governor's Office on Aging, it also gives it more credibility."
Beals-Luedtka would like the incoming Hobbs administration to create an aging office that will collaborate with stakeholders.
"And looking at the reality of the demographics, and tying some of the funding that we have. So we don't have to go back every three years or every year and beg for funding. That funding ought to be hooked to the data: when the aging population grows, then so does the funding needs to grow."