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PHI Honors Direct-Care Workers for Older Americans Month

May 11, 2016

— Statement from PHI President Jodi M. Sturgeon —

"In honor of Older Americans Month, observed annually during the month of May, PHI would like to thank the more than 4 million direct-care workers who provide day-to-day support to older Americans all across the country. These personal care aides, home health aides, and nursing assistants, along with  family caregivers, ensure that aging Americans can live their lives with dignity and as much independence as possible.

"This year's theme for Older Americans Month is 'Blazing a Trail.' Those who choose to make their living caring for others are blazing a trail, choosing to dedicate themselves to the care and support of our rapidly growing elder population. To meet the needs of these older Americans in the coming decades, others will have to follow their lead — we will need over 1 million new direct-care workers over the decade 2012-2022.

"This is not an easy path. Today's direct-care workers are undervalued and underpaid, making on average just $11.31 per hour in largely part-time jobs. The work can be physically and emotionally difficult: direct-care workers have extremely high rates of on-the-job injury. Inadequate training and support often lead to high rates of turnover as well.

"Notably, America's paid caregivers are themselves getting older. By 2022, more than one in four (27 percent) direct-care workers will be over the age of 55. Given the direct-care workforce is 90 percent female and that women live longer than men, increasingly older women are caring for even older women. In many cases, both groups live on the edge of poverty. We need to do better!

"For this Older Americans Month, PHI calls on state and federal policymakers to allocate funding to improve training and compensation for America's direct-care workers. Better wages, as well as training and supports, are essential to attracting the nursing assistants and home care aides our nation needs to ensure older Americans can access the supportive services they need, in the setting of their choice."

— end —

PHI (Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute) works to transform eldercare and disability services. We foster dignity, respect, and independence — for all who receive care, and all who provide it. The nation's leading authority on the direct-care workforce, PHI promotes quality direct-care jobs as the foundation for quality care (www.PHInational.org).

Karen Kahn, Director of Communications, 978-740-9844

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