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Owners of rural eastern Iowa at-home care service says potential pay raise is needed now more than ever

Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 5:30 PM CDT
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DYSART, Iowa (KCRG) - Reinna Cross and Melanie Grimm have a passion for helping seniors in Tama County get the care they need so they can stay in the comfort of their homes. That’s why they opened Busy Bees, an at-home care service.

“We do whatever they need, within reason, that helps them stay at home longer. Most of them can do most things themselves, but it’s things like putting on their stockings in the morning, or getting up and taking a shower, making sure they’ve eaten something healthy and not just a piece of cake,” said Cross.

To their clients, the employees serve as medical care providers and companions.

A bill introduced one week ago in the Iowa House sets aside more than $14 million to boost pay for at-home caregivers. But it’s only for those who work with Medicaid clients.

“We put in our first application in September. And we assumed there might be a few things wrong because we did it ourselves. Unless you have a lawyer do it, it’s very hard,” said Grimm.

Since then, they have tried to modify their application to fit the qualifications, but as co-owner Melanie Grimm says, it’s proven nearly impossible.

With the potential of higher pay, she says the motivation is greater now more than ever.

“We would love to get Medicaid to be able to help more clients and more seniors that stay at home,” said Grimm.

According to Iowa Human Services, the average pay for direct-care workers is about $13 per hour. For many at-home care services, especially rural-based businesses like Busy Bees, the extra funds would raise that to $16 per hour.

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