A new online resource aims to strengthen the evidence base on the direct care workforce by gathering and centralizing the various studies, reports, and other resources that have been published about these workers—and by supporting leaders across disciplines in filling the knowledge gaps on this workforce.
As the country’s largest online library of information on direct care workers, The National Direct Care Workforce Center will support researchers, policymakers, practitioners, advocates, and journalists in better understanding—and building the knowledge base on—this critical workforce of 4.5.... Read More
Let’s Pause to Celebrate a Historic Win for Direct Care Workers
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered our way of living while putting enormous pressures on the health and long-term care sectors, including the direct care workforce. Epidemiologists are predicting that it will continue to worsen in the months ahead, straining our health care resources, the economy, and the full aging and long-term care system.
In times of crisis, important policy wins are often understandably overshadowed by more pressing matters. In this context, one major win for direct care workers took place last Wednesday when President Trump signed into law the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020, which reauthorizes the Older Americans Act (OAA) for five more years and increases funding levels for its programs.... Read More
Direct Care Workers Can Address Social Isolation and Loneliness
A remarkable though unsettling new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has drawn attention to the extensive harm that social isolation and loneliness are having on the health and well-being of older adults. The report—Social Isolation and Loneliness in Older Adults: Opportunities for the Health Care System—provides a sweeping overview of these two issues, as well as a compelling rationale for why.... Read More
7 Reasons We Need the ‘Caring for the Future’ Report Series
Last week, PHI released an urgent, new report on the direct care workforce. It’s Time to Care: A Detailed Profile of America’s Direct Care Workforce provides a thorough overview of the direct care workforce (including key concepts and definitions), an analysis of how the direct care role has evolved, and a statistical profile of the workforce with key demographics, socio-economic characteristics, and future projections.
But It’s Time to Care not a stand-alone report. It’s the first installment in a yearlong series of reports that will examine the importance and impact of the direct care workforce. The final report— Caring for the.... Read More
A New Project Aims to Make Residential Care More LGBT-Friendly
Two months after my mother entered a nursing home at age 73, she made a firm request to the home’s administration: add a Spanish-language channel to the lineup being offered throughout the facility. They obliged, lightening an otherwise grueling life transition for my mother, and her room soon filled with the sounds of programs she had watched much of her adult life. While it was a relatively modest concession on behalf of the nursing home, this decision was profoundly important to my mother. In the context of long-term care, it embodied the “person-centered” philosophy that has become increasingly common in this sector, affirming that individuals across the spectrum.... Read More
Worried About Care for Your Aging Parents? Support Racial Justice.
As a long-term care advocate, the most common question I get from friends is about access. A friend needs home care for his father with dementia, but he doesn’t know where to start or whether he can afford it. Another friend who has begun applying for Medicaid for her mother soon discovers that the application process is arduous and deeply invasive. Worse, she learns that paying for a nursing home will quickly deplete her mother’s savings—as designed by Medicaid—just to qualify for government support. The safety net for people who need long-term care is fractured, unfair and complicated—a painful realization at the worst possible time.
I think of these scenarios when I’m caught in policy debates about.... Read More
On April 3, 2008, my longtime friend Don (last name withheld) tested positive for HIV, the same day as his mother’s 56th birthday. He remembers the day vividly. “I had given blood to my doctor and a couple weeks later, I still hadn’t received a call. I called my doctor’s office and they said, ‘There’s an anomaly with your blood.’ I immediately freaked out and thought, ‘God, this is it.'” Don took the last appointment of the day and a few hours later received his diagnosis, along with a few referrals. He went home “to pull myself together, call my mom and wish her a happy birthday.” He wouldn’t share his HIV status with his mother for several years.
Latino elders who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) face additional challenges as they age, compounded by barriers rooted in their racial and ethnic identities, as well as LGBT stigma and discrimination. Yet the attention and infrastructure to ameliorate these conditions is generally lacking. That’s the overarching conclusion reached by the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) in a first-ever national needs assessment examining the social, economic and political realities of a growing, though multiply marginalized, population.
NCHOA’s report speaks to a timely moment. Demographics project a significant increase in Latino people and older people over the next few decades, trends rooted largely in immigration and the aging of the Baby Boom generation, respectively. For example, the.... Read More
LGBT People: Our Longing for Home, Our Right to Housing
There are mornings when the hour-long commute to work feels Odyssean. Today is one of those mornings. February has unfurled a litany of winter storms that have left New York City awash in slush and my Facebook feed soaked in bemoaning. As I trudge through Brooklyn and board the D train to Manhattan, I’m stirred by the resilience of people to survive winter—huddled overnight in subway trains and housing shelters, or living miles from work to afford one’s rent, a mortgage and the accumulating costs of.... Read More
Our Issues Entwine: LGBTQ Aging and Economic Justice
MY IMMIGRANT MOTHER sits silently in a room the size of a small kitchen. Earlier this year, she survived multiple failures of the heart, kidneys, and limbs over the course of six weeks. She is seventy-three, uses a wheelchair, and for the first time in her life is surrounded by white people who do not speak Spanish, in the only nearby nursing home my parents can afford. In turn, my father drives through the days confronted by three omnipresent realities: hour-long daily visits with my mother, a night shift to keep him mentally and financially afloat, and a mailbox flooded with health care bills, insurance disputes and the complexity of navigating Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers. When I speak of.... Read More
Open Letter to Health Reform Advocates: Pay Attention to Discrimination
The harms inflicted by discrimination reveal themselves in our bodies as we age — as people of color, as poor and low-income people, and as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The symptoms manifest as higher rates of high blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, depression, social isolation and more. In medical charts throughout the country, our bodies record what it means to survive a life shaped by perpetual poverty, higher concentrations in low-wage jobs with no health insurance, thin retirement options and inadequate protections in the workplace. They depict our fractured relationships to health care — from cultural and linguistic barriers to overt bias and discrimination from health and aging providers, to a long-held, hard-earned distrust of.... Read More
Today’s post is from Robert Espinoza, Senior Director for Public Policy and Communications at SAGE. Follow him on Twitter.
In December 2010, I took part in a first-time meeting of national aging organizations working with older people of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elders.
Over time, this group would form a coalition focused on federal policy reform—the Diverse Elders Coalition (DEC)—but what resonated in those initial meetings was a belief that we needed to sort through our individual interests, find multiple points of commonality, and employ a joint advocacy agenda that would profoundly change older people for generations to come.
We knew that a coalition approach was tactically smart; it leveraged our organizational resources and.... Read More