Home care issues were making waves with major coverage at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia last week, bringing together caregivers and legislators to discuss the Democratic Party’s new policy goals.
During the week of the DNC, several legislators and home care workers and advocates spoke at an event—the Care Revolution Forum at the National Museum of American Jewish History—about key policy issues to improve the home care workforce and increase the availability and accessibility of care.
“The highlight was the unity, everyone being on the same page,” Tanika Aden, a 15-year home care worker from Washington state who spoke at the event, told Home Health Care News. “We’ve had so much division in this country in the last few weeks; this was about getting people to see the bigger picture, to come together and make America a better place.”
Higher wages was at the top of the policy wish list for home care workers, who have been fighting for a living wage. Several individual cities and states, including Washington D.C., Seattle, New York and California, have adopted a $15-an-hour wage, set to be implemented over time, in the last few years.
“All workers should make a living wage and not have to work so many hours,” Aden said. “If you work full time in this country, you should be able to make it and pay for necessities without working two or three jobs.”
Both major political parties have mentioned home care as part of their health care policy platform, emphasizing that shifting care options to the home is crucial to appease patient’s desires to age in place and reduce costs in other more expensive care settings. Making the home caregiver position more appealing, with better wages and benefits, is a crucial part of that transition, advocates say.
“Home care work has been, and usually is, done by women and people of color,” Aden said. “For a long time it hasn’t been valued. Now, people are starting to see the value in home care. The silver tsunami is coming. People are going to need help in their homes. They are going to need home care workers and we should start making sure these are good positions.”
The DNC also featured a home care worker from Detroit, Michigan, Henrietta Ivey, who spoke of the struggles that low wages incur for home care workers. Check out her speech below:
Written by Amy Baxter