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Direct-Care Worker and Family Caregiver Perspectives Highlighted at Congressional Briefing

November 7, 2014

Congressional staff learned about the health care workforce that cares for older adults at a briefing hosted by the Eldercare Workforce Alliance (EWA) on October 30.

The briefing, entitled “It Takes a Team: What We Will Need to Meet the Needs of Older Adults and Their Family Caregivers,” featured panelists representing a variety of perspectives from the interdisciplinary care team.

Arnetta Whitaker, a “stand-by” aide for Home Care Partners in Washington, D.C., represented the direct-care workforce perspective on the panel.

In her comments (at 53:39 in the briefing video), Whitaker noted the important ways in which her training in CPR, fall prevention, dementia care, therapeutic engagement, and mental health first aid, enables her to provide good care. She also explained that because direct-care workers are in the home more frequently or for longer periods of time, they play an important role in communicating observations to other members of the care team.

Karen Marshall recounted her experiences as a family caregiver for her father and emphasized the importance of communication among team members and empowering family caregivers and the individual receiving care. The organization Marshall founded and directs, the Kadamba Tree Foundation, offers classes, support groups, and resources for family caregivers.

Other briefing panelists were:

  • Lenise A. Cummings-Vaughn, assistant professor, Washington University
  • Tara Cortes, executive director, Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing
  • Andrew Heck, a licensed clinical psychologist and clinical director at Piedmont Geriatric Hospital, and
  • Carmen Morano, associate professor, Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College

Michèle Saunders, DMD, MS, MPH, past-president of the Gerontological Society of America and co-convener of EWA, moderated the briefing.

— by Gail MacInnes, PHI Government Affairs Manager

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