GETZVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — Darlene Gates has worked in home care at Wineberg Campus for 21 years.
"It had its challenges. It [still] has its challenges but when this pandemic hit, it has been unreal," she said. "When I first started out it was a very rewarding job,"
But now, Gates said she and others are working not just as caregivers, but in any department possible, wearing different hats and fulfilling many needs.
"If it's not enough staff in housekeeping or someone to cook the meal, you have to wear those different hats to meet the needs of these clients," said Gates.
And that was why she joined others at a protest calling for reform of the nursing home system. Similar rallies were held at other homes across Western New York and the state.
"It's like it's an impossible environment where you can't deliver the service or do the job that you were hired to do," she said.
Lack of staff, low wages, and high staff turnover are what Marshall Bertram, an organizer with SEIU 1199, said are inadequacies in the system.
These protests are part of the Invest in Quality Care campaign.
"What this campaign is pushing for is that taxpayer dollars that fund nursing homes be more focused on providing care for residents and providing people to care for residents," said Bertram. "To provide for our caregivers. Including better wages so people can treat this like a career like they used to instead of it being a low wage paying job."
The campaign also calls for more transparency around the finances of nursing home owners, and to make sure residents get more time with their caregivers.