Thank you SEIU for sponsoring this post.
I know it may be strange to some, talking about home care. Similar to mental health, it is one of those taboo subjects people like to steer clear of. Until you need it, or one of your loved ones needs it, you may find yourself not wanting to discuss it, but take it from me, home health care, and home care workers are essential, and similar to mental health care workers, you will be just as grateful for them should you need them. Home care is essential.
Guess what!? Statistics show that you will need it. Whether it is for ourselves, or someone we love or care for we or they will need assistance from either getting older or recovering from an injury or disability. In America today, nearly 20 million adults require assistance completing self-care and other daily tasks due to physical, cognitive, developmental, and/or behavioral conditions. From 2018-2028, the U.S. will need to fill over 4.4 million home care job openings (Source & source).
I will preface this with the fact that I worked in the pharmacy sales world for a few years, and worked specifically in pharmacy markets in home health agencies. It is true; most home care and home health care workers are saints. I have also seen many home care workers neglect their own self-care to take care of their patients. Just so you are aware, home care workers are essential, frontline healthcare workers who provide the skilled, compassionate, dedicated care millions of people- you, me, seniors, people with disabilities, etc, rely on to live safely and independently at home. Can you imagine not having them? It would mean that people would not be able to live independently at home, in their own environment, where they feel most safe and secure.
Unfortunately, and fortunately, I have had the experience recently of getting to know home health care workers on a personal level through the years, outside of work. Gerry and I have had several family and friends who have been ill and needed home care. I know the feeling of being anxious, wondering what is going to happen with our loved one(s) when they need care at home. I’ve not only been fearful about what is going to happen to our loved one, but also, what is going to happen to our job(s), or who will take off and stay home. We’ve often taken shifts in our family until we learned about home care workers, or until we lined up care. It’s a nightmare, and it takes a toll on your family financially.
We’ve had the best experiences with home care workers with our family. Our home care workers have been absolutely WONDERFUL. Wonderful doesn’t even quite give enough praises. From the beginning of their arrival, they give the expectations of when they would arrive, making themselves known to those in the household, showing compassion and empathy every step of the way. It has always been nice knowing that our loved ones have the ability to be able to be safe and secure in their own home. It is exactly how I would want it to be, should I be in that situation. Home health care workers we have had experience with, have truly helped our family physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
I, for one, know that my independence is sacred to me. While I love having friends and family in my life, I find having to depend on people to be very difficult. I remember my grandmother when she was ill, and we were all working our schedules around taking her to appointments, staying with her during the day, prior to home care, she felt like it was demeaning. It weighed on her. I didn’t understand at the time, telling her that we were doing it because we loved her, but I do get it. I know that once care was in place, the stress that was off of her, knowing that we were working, and she knew that even though we didn’t resent her for it, she felt guilty. It is something that people who are sick, injured or disabled feel. Independence is paramount to everyone, but especially as we age. Home care workers take that stress off of the recipient as much as they take the pressure off of the caregiver, i.e. family. Home care workers give people independence.
I have always said that I hate being experienced and knowledgeable on something in the health arena that presents itself in a negative manner, but I really want to make sure that home health, and home care workers are not looked upon in a negative way. I want people to know that they need to be appreciated more. I know, if our family’s care, we would have had to leave our jobs, or at least someone would have had to, if we did not have home health care workers. In many cases, working people are forced to leave paid jobs to provide care for a loved one in need. An estimated 53 million do so, unpaid (Source).
I want to make sure that we not only talk about our appreciation for this workforce but also raise awareness for the need for support for this undervalued group of people. I know that they made our loved ones and our family’s experience in something that was a challenge, dignified for our family, less of a challenge, and more pleasant.
We need to support good union jobs with living wages, benefits, and training that will attract more people to home care jobs. Did you know that almost 90 percent of home care workers are women, more than 60 percent are people of color, and 31 percent are immigrants (Source)? A stable home care workforce will lead to quality, affordable care that is available for all people and families, now and in the future. I keep bringing up independence for those that the home care workers provide care for. Why is it that the home care workers themselves struggle to have financial independence? Home care workers provide dignity, a feeling of worth, and self-respect, amongst many other things for those whom they care for, let alone the feelings of security and comfort for the patients’ families. We need to make sure they are paid accordingly.
So, hopefully, by now, you are asking yourself how you can help this workforce that you WILL depend on at some point. Well, here are some ways you can act:
- Learn more about home care by visiting CareIsEssential.org. You can understand more about home care workers — who they are, what they do, and why they are (and we should be) fighting for the respect, protection, and pay they deserve.
- Click here to show your support for home care workers.
- Be sure to thank home care workers, locally, virtually, or any that you are aware of. If you don’t think you know any, seek to get to know a home care worker, and thank them for their tireless work. Buy him/her a cup of coffee. I’m sure they could use it.
- Advocate for home care workers by contacting congress to invest in-home care workers. Learn more here.
Home care workers deserve to be respected, protected and paid wages that reflect the immense value of the work they do. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) unites 2 million diverse members in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. SEIU members working in the healthcare industry, in the public sector, and in property services believe in the power of joining together on the job to win higher wages and benefits and to create better communities while fighting for a more just society and an economy that works for all of us, not just corporations and the wealthy. You can learn more about them, and join their efforts by visiting this link.
Home care is essential. You know that now, or you will.