Elder Care Campaign
Our Local and Strategic Work
Dialogue between Workers and Consumers (elders, families, and those concerned about their future care)
We are bringing together communities of seniors and their families with communities of home care/elder care workers and domestic workers and their families, because we believe quality jobs and quality care go hand in hand. Through this dialogue we are uncovering our shared values and aspirations for what elder care and elder care work should be. We are also discussing and grappling with the challenges we all face, as well as our differences.
Many BJ members rely upon caregivers, which can be costly, and at the same time unsuitable to the needs of many care recipients. There can be complaints of being misunderstood, infantilized, not respected. On the other side of this equation, paid caregivers are often underpaid, not respected, and at times treated poorly.
These are just a couple of examples of the difficulties of elder care that we would like to change. We are working closely with domestic worker groups [Domestic Workers United (DWU) – Caribbean and Latino workers, Adhikaar – Nepali workers, Damayan – Filipino workers] and with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ). We are learning about and sharing our varied cultures, experiences and values. We are engaging in dialogue to build trusting relationships and mutual understanding to turn our vulnerability into mutual strength and a shared vision for elder care.
Our shared values include:
- Clear and open communication
- Dignity, justice, and equity
- Mutual respect
- Genuine compassion for one another; cross-cultural understanding
- Trust, integrity, and sincerity
- We are all aging; Recognition that we are all interdependent, and that people who receive care also give care, people who give care also need care
- Value the worker, value the senior, value the human being
- Career ladder, opportunities for growth
- Caring and organizing across generations
- Cooperation, coordination, and partnership
- We want a path to citizenship for care workers and we value comprehensive immigrants’ rights
- We value access to care and information to help seniors, families, and workers.
- Affordability of care for seniors and living wages for workers
- We’re all in this together for the sake of a greater good; we have each other’s back
- We will fight for justice and equity until we get it
- All of our grievances are connected; all of our struggles are linked
Join us at the next Elder Care Dialogue on Thursday, April 18, 2013!
Research and Workforce Development
The problem that we are addressing is that we have an aging population and lack the supports needed in order to age in place with dignity. We also have a large community of low-wage workers in New York City who lack basic labor protections and access to high quality training. Seniors and their families also lack access to training and information to help navigate this industry at a difficult moment in the life of a senior and their family. Elder care workers are excluded from the Fair Labor Standards Act (which grants minimum wages) and the National Labor Relations Act, as these workers are considered “companions” according to federal law. This exclusion does a disservice to workers and to consumers, elders, and families. It undervalues the care work and the skills needed to provide quality care that seniors deserve. We have an opportunity to have an impact and research and workforce development is our first step.
In collaboration with our partners and with the assistance of the Urban Justice Center, we are researching and evaluating existing training for elder/home care workers in New York City. We want to expand and improve upon what is currently available. We hope to use our pilot training as a platform to build upon, in order to create more supports and programs to compliment quality training. This is what we want and need for seniors and workers.
Many seniors at BJ and on the Upper West Side will be part of the private-pay market (directly hiring workers) because we do not qualify for Medicaid; long-term care insurance, if we are lucky enough to have it may not provide for all of our home care needs. This is the area of the market and workforce where we are focusing our advocacy in order to create more consistency in job quality and job training. Consumers in this part of the market are often on their own, there are no social workers or organizations to guide us through care arrangement or relationships. Elders and their families need resources and information in order to be good employers and to manage our care relationships.
Part of a National Effort – Caring Across Generations
Our project supports the work of the national Caring Across Generations campaign in building our vision for elder care.
The Caring Across Generations policy plan includes two concurrent platforms: protecting the vital programs and rights we have earned as a nation, and creating what we need in order to ensure quality, affordable care and good jobs.
Protect What We’ve Earned
If we are to ensure access to quality care and dignified work for our loved ones, there are five elements of current public policy that need to be protected:
Home Care Jobs
Create What We Need
There are five policy elements that help address the many dimensions of the care crisis and help us create the support system we need. These are the policy pillars of the Caring Across Generations campaign:
Create care jobs to meet our needs as a nation
Improve job quality for home care workers
Develop national training standards and clearly articulated career pathways
Create a path to legalization for home care workers
Create a comprehensive approach to making quality care affordable for individuals and families
For more information including background on this campaign and its core values, visit: www.caringacrossgenerations.org