How do senior living leaders help minimum wage workers get out of the poverty cycle?
By Pam McDonald
Senior Housing Forum Publisher Steve Moran recently asked Kimberly Green, COO of the Oklahoma-based Diakonos Group, how senior living leaders might help minimum wage workers get out of the poverty cycle.
Kimberly responds, “That is one of my biggest life goals. That’s one of the reasons I teach CNAs. I was a CNA, I started as a CNA . . . and I often . . . [wonder] what propelled me to move on.”
There Are A Lot of Variables
Speculating about causes, Kimberly says there are a lot of variables. “One is possibly the way they were raised, their family . . . That’s how they were taught to think. Another is just bad life choices that lead you down that line. You made a bad choice here and it led to a bad choice there, now you can’t get out of it.”
She continues, “Some of the things we’re trying in our company to change it . . . and I can’t say we’ve been overly successful yet because this is a process. It’s sort of like . . . you try something and it fails. We’re not afraid to do that and we go, ‘Well, that didn’t work, darn it. Maybe it’s going to be a combination of this and this or maybe we’ve got to drop this.’”
Kimberly points out that her company targets areas where low-income workers seem to be weak. She says, “ . . . They don’t show up because they got their tax return and now they’re going to retire, so they quit. But then they’re back the next week and we can’t hire them because they quit without notice.
“We try to provide counseling during that time . . . of ‘this is what you’re going to get. Let us help you financially learn how to manage your money’ . . . We work with NACHA on that.”
Bringing in Community Resources
She mentions another effort Diakonos leads, saying “We’re working with the local banks to come in and help [our staff] . . . open free checking and savings, which a lot of them have never had. Then we have a financial planner that sits down with them and teaches them . . . that $200 tattoo is a week’s . . . cause they don’t think like that sometimes.”
Creating A Web of Assistance and Resources
Kimberly also notes that her company provides literacy training and is targeting abuse – verbal, emotional, physical, and child abuse. She says, “We’re trying to slowly create a whole web of assistance and resources.”
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Diakonos Group has 22 communities in Oklahoma and offers the full continuum of care, including intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IID). independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing long-term care, and post-acute transition care. The company also operates a hospice and a pharmacy.