Our June 2022 caregiver shortage package – a collaboration of WXXI, The Buffalo News, the Democrat and Chronicle and Gannett journalism teams in Michigan and New York State – recently earned recognition in the New York Press Association contest.

The judges called the package of five stories a “thoughtful and poignant examination of a problem bedeviling thousands of New York families and tens of thousands more nationwide.” The stories were honored in the solutions journalism category.

The main piece, written by Sarah Taddeo, Gannett’s New York State editor, illustrates the effects of the shortage of in-home health aides in the United States. Kevin Gurgui, like many patients, is desperately in need of home assistance, but often is alone or dependent on parents who are bordering on burnout. “There’s no pool of people to pull from now,” he told Taddeo. Home care workers, who often are paid less than fast food workers and receive fewer benefits, leave the field because they can’t pay their bills. 

Another installment in the series, titled Invisible Army: Caregivers on the Front Line, shows there’s also a caregiver shortage in nursing homes. As Jon Harris of The Buffalo News reported, nursing homes are raising wages and offering signing bonuses. Some facilities are sending their staff back to school. Other employers are providing their workers “success coaches” who help employees with myriad issues, including food insecurity, child care and budgeting, April Franklin of WXXI News reported

Among other solutions presented in the stories is a legislative proposal in New York, the Fair Pay for Home Care Act, which would guarantee 150 percent of minimum wage as a standard. 

The full list of stories in the award-winning package:

The package is a project of the New York & Michigan Solutions Journalism Collaborative. Founded in 2020, our consortium unites known and respected names in news and the community from Western New York and Southeastern Michigan, working together in unprecedented ways to identify and address complex problems.