Home care workers are in the fastest-growing occupational group, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and their growing ranks calls for more careful consideration on the part of senior living providers to create ethical work environments for these workers, writes nonprofit senior care trade group LeadingAge.
The labor bureau’s statistics make a case that a lot needs to be done to improve conditions for home care workers, as many rely on public benefits and don’t have any health insurance.
Creating better conditions for home care workers is a “win-win for American families, businesses and communities,” [Director of Policy Research at the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute Dorie] Seavey contends. Families will get the help they desperately need. Businesses will reap the benefits of having employees who don’t have to work the equivalent of another part-time job to care for an aging relative. Lost productivity of family caregivers who also have regular jobs costs employers about $34 billion a year, according to The MetLife Caregiving Cost Study: Productivity Losses to U.S. Businesses, July 2006.
LeadingAge members “are committed to building an ethical workplace that is contained within a defined community—that is, within bricks and mortar,” [President and CEO at Isabella Geriatric Center in New York, N.Y. Mark] Kator says. “By extension, it’s just as important to do the same out in the community where the realities are different.”
Home care workers often function in isolation with no immediate connection to a team of coworkers. While working in the home setting, they need to feel empowered on the job so they can provide quality care.
Addressing those issues and needs “is good management, good strategy and good planning,” Kator says. “And it’s ethical because it invests in people in such a way that not only will they be able to do their jobs better, but they also will have more opportunity in their careers.”
Across the nation, some LeadingAge members are working to improve conditions for their home care workers, whether by boosting retention or investing in employees through peer mentoring initiatives, communication, and better pay.
Read the full article, with stories of how organizations are creating ethical workplaces, here.
Written by Alyssa Gerace