Thank you SEIU for sponsoring this post!
In the U.S. today, nearly 20 million adults require assistance completing self-care and other daily tasks due to physical, cognitive, developmental, and behavioral conditions Source. November is National Family Caregivers Month, and it is a time when we acknowledge the role that caregivers play in our daily lives. Join us this November as we celebrate care workers who are caregivers too.
Caregivers have always been a part of my life. In my earliest memories, my maternal grandmother lived with us. She was over 70 years old when I was born, and as I grew, her health and mobility began to decline. Living in an intergenerational home meant that I could actively participate in my grandmother’s care. While in elementary school, I combed and brushed her soft silver hair and assisted her by clipping her long, thick nails. As I reminisced, the best part of caregiving for me growing up was sitting beside my Grandma Carrie and listening to her childhood stories. Just thinking back, I can still recall the smell of her homemade buttermilk biscuits and black molasses, which was her favorite breakfast staple. Of course, being that I was a child, there were other more experienced caregivers in my home, including my older sister. She continues to serve as a caregiver professionally. From watching her life and dedication to others, I celebrate caregivers and care workers because they are essential to the longevity of humanity.
Caregiving Takes Compassion
Did you know, ”Nearly 90 percent of home care workers are women, more than 60 percent are people of color, and 31 percent are immigrants” (Source)? Carol, my oldest sister, falls into this category as a Black woman. Over the years, she has had countless home health clients who felt like family members. Carol works days, nights, holidays, and weekends. She loves taking care of her patients when families need her expertise and companionship the most.
Care Workers Face Extra Challenges During the Pandemic
However, the pandemic has been challenging because she also cares for our mother and other elderly parents. During this time, she has had to continue to work as an essential worker despite the mandates, personal fears, and long hours without enough breaks. Unfortunately, the work home care workers do never seem to get the gratitude, appreciation, and pay they deserve. The narrative ran on television ads often acknowledges the sacrifices of doctors and nurses, but care workers are frequently left out of the conversation. “Despite being one of the fastest-growing, most in-demand professions, home care jobs are some of the lowest paid in the country. Nationally, the median hourly wage for home care workers is just $12.12, and the median annual wage is just $17,200” Source.
Care Workers Deserve Respect
In the present-day economy and under the current circumstances, we see more than ever just how underpaid these frontline workers are. The fact is, home health care workers should receive the respect, salary, and protection they deserve. Because of their commitment, the rest of us in society can do our jobs, go on vacations, and participate in things that we love. If you don’t fully understand the role caregivers play in our society or you’re curious and want to learn more, visit CareIsEssential.org to find out who, what, and why care workers are fighting for respect and protection. Click here to learn more to show your support for home care workers.
“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 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.
The 740,000+ home care workers united in SEIU are raising awareness of the rising demand for affordable long-term care. This movement of caregivers is calling on candidates at all levels to present policy solutions so seniors and people with disabilities have quality, affordable home care and all of the nation’s 2.4 million home care workers have good union jobs. www.seiu.org | www.CareIsEssential.org” (source).
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