When the recession hit, my business was put through unbelievable turmoil here in California. Everyone who had ever worked for me started to file for unemployment, and many laborious hours were put into filling out claims to EDD and other authorities. People started to apply for low-income everything, from transportation, to welfare, to housing.
My insurance rates skyrocketed. My clients went from 28 to eight and our contracts in California all got reduced by three percent. My profit margin went down by about ten percent, but the most tragic part is that besides not getting new clients, the work ethic of everyone except for my very dedicated office staff, crumbled right before my eyes. People stopped showing up for work, people got sick and couldn’t show any medical documentation—probably because they didn’t have any medical insurance—then there are the people who apply to work for you, they promise you the moon, you hire them, and they give a big nothing.
After hearing the news of Friday that the unemployment rate for the country was 10.2 percent, this did not surprise me. Because I run a home health care agency, I found it very coincidental that they were interviewing a woman at an unemployment center who happened to be a home health care worker, and that they said this was a “growing field.” But of course with CNN there are always questions as to the legitimacy of what they cover, and how they cover it. If this woman at the unemployment office, was only working four days a week as a home care worker, then why didn’t she take on my shifts, and why was she at the unemployment office when she already had a job. If she was such a good home care worker, then why didn’t she pick up more hours with her agency, or go and find someone in need of homecare.
It can be said that I am just a disconnected person who owns a company, but I choose to disagree. Not only am I the owner and director of a business, but I have dealt with home care workers every single day of my life due to my cerebral palsy. I work in my business over 80 hours a week. I have to pay rent, bills, buy into my long-term care and my health insurance, which I get through the state. Sometimes I feel like workers in the state of California have simply given up hope. They don’t want to work, or if they dp want to work, they want to work just on their own terms and at their own schedule, and only if they need to work. Maybe they believe the Governor will just pick up their tab. But the catch-22 is that when they get their paychecks, they are stunned to see how much is taken out.
The trickledown effect of the almighty dollar can only be overpowered by one thing, the power of the people, because ultimately that is who it affects. In my business, when people don’t show up for work, people really do suffer. People who are children, the elderly, and people with mental disabilities have to go without care. It would be nice to see the work ethic come back, to find people who do their job not just for the low wage, but because they truly care about the person. I never hear my staff ask when they call out of a job “What’s going to happen to Oliver, will he have to go without, will there be someone who can replace me?”
Besides the issue of the work ethic coming back in California, the other more critical issue is non-medical emergency response homecare services. This means that when someone has a non-medical emergency or their care providers cannot show up, that there is an on-demand service that people can call in their area that will respond, and take care of their needs. Let’s see California put some money into that.
Nicholas Feldman resides in Berkeley with his fiancé and runs a homecare business called Dare to Dream Attendant Services.