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Family Caregivers Could Use Skills for Direct-Care Work, NY Times Reports

June 6, 2013

Family caregivers accrue marketable skills that can easily translate to the field of direct care, reports Paula Span in the New York Times’s “New Old Age” blog.

Span highlights a recent study published on the website of the Gerontologist, which proposes a “path to economic resilience” for family caregivers to take after their caregiving duties end.

“On the job as a caregiver, you actually learn a lot of skills — whether it’s giving medications on a schedule or learning to transfer your loved one or bathe them,” Melissa Simon, the study’s lead author, told Span.

In the comments section, PHI Midwest Program and Policy Manager Tameshia Bridges points out that there already exist many programs allowing family members to provide care for their loved ones while getting paid through Medicaid.

PHI has recently surveyed family members who provide such services in Michigan, Bridges notes.

More than half of family members in Michigan’s MI Choice Medicaid waiver program (58 percent) said they want to continue as a direct-care worker, the survey found.

Attracting Workers

In her post, Span writes that recruiting new direct-care workers to the job can be difficult because of the difficulty of the work and the low wages and benefits.

Home care workers, for example, are not even legally entitled to earn overtime pay. A December 2011 promise by President Obama to amend that exemption has yet to be fulfilled, Span writes.

“That we are still waiting to learn if the Obama administration will honor its pledge and at least provide them the same wage and hour protections as other workers handily demonstrates the problem,” she writes. “These low-wage aides, most of whom are women, lack economic or political clout.”

Advocates can sign an online petition to urge the Obama administration to finally guarantee fair pay for home care workers.

— by Matthew Ozga

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