During my career as a professional in-home caregiver, I’ve cared for more than 20 people over 30 years. These are some of the most vulnerable people in our community. On top of physical disabilities, many suffer from mental health issues. Some have required care their entire lives and will for the rest of their lives.
What many people don’t realize is that those of us who have committed our lives to providing this care sometimes teeter on the edge of needing support, too. Despite the hard work and commitment these jobs require, they are some of the lowest paid in health care.
The failure to invest in in-home care service has cost more than just homecare workers and our clients. Nationwide, 90% of homecare workers are women. In Montana, many of us work on American Indian reservations.
Like for so many of us, the pandemic has made a difficult job even harder for in-home caregivers. We have had to take extra care to make sure our clients, many of whom have serious pre-existing conditions, are not exposed to the virus. And waitlists for that were already long before have gotten much worse.
It is long past time for leaders in Washington to honor service, and the lives of the people we care for, by investing in our jobs and services. They have the opportunity to do that by supporting the American Families Plan federal budget, which would improve wages, training and expand access to in-home care for thousands of Montanans.
Decades of inaction have been long enough. Now is the time for our leaders to act.
Debra Fau is a homecare worker in Darby