Should spouses be allowed to be paid caregivers?

When people are told that spouses are excluded from being paid caregivers in the AFC program, we usually get one of two opposite responses, “of course not” or “why? that makes no sense”. People seem to have an intuitive sense of the reason why spouses should or should not be allowed to be paid as caregivers by the state. It is not so clear cut, though.

There are a number of different reasons for and against allowing spouses to be paid caregivers. One common one against is the cultural notion that spouses are supposed to care for one another for love and not for money. Another reason given is that there may be increased fraud if spouses were paid caregivers. Financial reasons go both ways, some arguing that it would increase costs to the state and others that it could mean a decrease in cost because it could lead to savings in institutional care. There are many compelling stories from people that speak to the reasons why having a spouse be able to be their paid caregiver would improve their quality of life and in some cases mean the difference between being able to stay at home or move into a nursing facility. There is one such story featured in this month’s Mass Home Care newsletter.

When we learned that there are already 15 other states that allow spouses to be paid caregivers, we were quite surprised. We tend to think we are ahead of the curve here in Massachusetts when it comes to access to services, so to hear that we are ‘behind’ is always a little bit of a shock.

Mass Home Care has taken the lead with moving forward a bill before the Massachusetts Legislature that would allow spouses to be paid as caregivers within both the Adult Family Care and Personal Care Attendant programs. There is also a petition online to gather support for the bill. You can sign it here.