By Mike Shilley and Tom Buchanan
The national Caring Across Generations campaign brings together care workers, people with disabilities, older adults and their families with the goal of improving the quality and accessibility of care for everyone. The Washington Care Council is the state umbrella organization for the campaign.
We all have a stake in transforming our care infrastructure.
PSARA was one of a number of organizations from across the State attending the first annual lobby day of the Caring Across Generations campaign.
We heard from Hillary Stern, Executive Director of Casa Latina about the need for a movement to expand and improve home care. Our goal is to gather the resources necessary to make it possible to “create a caring relationship between care givers and those who need care”.
Susie Levy, an organizer with Washington Community Action Network, said this lobby day “starts a new path of advocacy in Washington. An important goal is for care workers to gain the resources they need to provide quality care and to support their families. We will work to assure respectful and compassionate treatment of our immigrant community. This is a key piece of the effort to develop a work force capable of addressing future long term care demand.”
By 2050 more than 27 million additional Americans will need long term care. It will be delivered either in institutions or through home care. A national crisis is looming and we need a long term plan.
After the morning program, legislative district groups visited their respective legislators. A great range of experienced political activists and first-time attendees came together from several ethnicities and speaking different languages.
With the help of experienced translators we heard the stories of exploitation of workers in the elder care industry. We heard stories of home care workers giving compassionate care for very little pay. The need for training and a living wage was heard loud and clear.
The fact that many workers in this industry are new immigrants, some undocumented, made the need for immigration reform a high priority. Most of our Legislators with whom we spoke expressed sympathy for our goals. We will continue to pursue the five goals of the campaign:
- Respond to the future need for two million new home care workers.
- Provide a living wage for current and future home care workers.
- Provide quality training programs for long term care workers.
- Provide a pathway to citizenship for these workers.
- Create social insurance programs that provide financial support to individuals and families that need long term care services.
Mike Shilley and Tom Buchanan are PSARA members.