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Recognizing the Heartbeat of Home Care: Advocating for Caregivers

By MissionCare Collective | Mar 07, 2024

Recognizing the Heartbeat of Home Care: Advocating for Caregivers

The tireless devotion and unwavering commitment of home care workers rarely capture the headlines, but Althea's candid interview offers a raw and impassioned perspective into the world of caregiving. Through her experiences and insights, one thing is abundantly clear: caregivers are hungry for recognition and advocacy.

Althea's journey into caregiving began with admiration for a uniform — her aunt's pristine white ensemble from Bellevue Hospital in Jamaica. This tangible symbol of dedication was the foundation upon which Althea built a 20-year career, filled with highs and lows. While she revels in the joy of connecting with dementia patients and the satisfaction of making a difference, she's equally forthright about the challenges of the job, notably the lack of adequate compensation and benefits.

Indeed, the echoes of Althea's plea for recognition reverberate throughout the interview. She states “We should have some sort of award or recognition for what we do, especially when you find a well-trained caregiver and someone who is well-rounded and a good fit.”

Why, then, is the pay so low for such crucial work? Althea speculates that it might be time to engage with legislators and bring the unique challenges and necessities of caregiving into sharper focus. "We go in and care for people and it shouldn’t be unrecognized," she emphasizes. Caregivers are more than just proxies for doctors — they are the eyes, hands, and feet that observe, care, and report vital patient information.

Althea's call for action doesn't stop with compensation. She mentions the significance of companies recognizing their caregivers, not just with financial incentives but with gestures that show appreciation. From acknowledging birthdays to offering assistance with childcare and transportation, there's much that can be done to make caregivers feel valued.

Dishearteningly, many caregivers, including Althea, feel overlooked by their employers. “Sadly, they don’t recognize me today,” she admits. Yet, despite this, the spirit of duty propels her forward, come rain or shine.

In conclusion, Althea's narrative is a powerful call to action. While the love and compassion inherent in caregiving are irreplaceable, it's crucial to ensure that the very individuals who offer this vital service are recognized, appreciated, and well-compensated. By advocating for caregivers, we're not only uplifting a profession but also ensuring the well-being of countless individuals who rely on their indispensable care.

To listen to Althea’s interview and to see more stories of the direct care workforce, explore the "One Voice. Many Stories" project published in partnership with the National Association for Home Care and Hospice.