Alabama is moving toward $5.00 a gallon of gasoline, according to the AAA. Their latest survey shows prices are up four cents since Monday, rising to an average of $4.57 a gallon for regular gasoline.
These gas prices are affecting an important business here in Huntsville: home health care.
Connie Love fills up the tank, looks at the price and says, “$38.15 for half a tank of fuel on a Ford Fiesta!” That’s an outrageous price for half a tank of gas, especially when driving in Madison County is a big part of Love’s job as Director of Always There In-Home Care.
“Doing transport, visiting customers, because we regularly go out and visit customers,” explains Love. “Probably what hurts most is that people feel like they can’t afford to work. Because people make a living, it seems like they only work to pay for gas.”
Always There In-Home Care currently serves about 50 clients, but they’re looking to expand and take on more.
“I’d say our caregivers spend between two and three hours a day (in the car) depending on how many clients they’re treating,” says Love.
“Bathe, get dressed, help them clean, cook a meal. It’s not something you can really dial in, you know. It’s a personal thing,” says Love, explaining the need to drive for her job. “We have a few clients that we pick up, we take them to doctor’s visits, to the grocery store, we have a client that we take to the gym.”
With gas prices at record high, Always There In-Home Care’s 40 caregivers are struggling to fill up their tanks and get to those who need them.
“Some carers have turned down some transport shifts because of the price of gas and obviously we want to make sure they don’t have to drive a lot. So we try to map them as they come on board, we try to match them to customers who are actually close to home,” says Love.
She says the company pays for time spent in the car and mileage, but the actual gas comes from the caregiver’s personal wallet. “As far as pulling up to the gas station and getting gas, that’s out of her pocket,” says Love.
“People who are making a living wage, these gas prices are tough on them and as a small business there’s only so much we can do in terms of pay and things like that. But we try to do what we can to help them,” she says.
Always There In-Home Care increases wages, pays for time spent in cars, and schedules caregivers’ routes based on the shortest possible travel time. All efforts to offset the rising gas price.
“While the cost of things affects us, this is our passion. So find a way to make that happen,” says Love. She ends up saying it’s all worth it since the care they provide to the people of Madison County is so important.
If you or someone you know needs in-home care, visit Always There In-Home Care to learn more about their services.