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OPINION: Ability360 calls for direct care workers during National Family Caregiver Month

OPINION: Ability360 calls for direct care workers during National Family Caregiver Month

November is National Family Caregivers Month. Vector illustration with ribbon on white background

By Christopher Rodriguez

November 21, 2023

National Family Caregiver Month shines a light on the 53 million Americans providing unpaid care for a loved one, spending an average of 23.7 hours per week doing so according to the study, “Caregiving in the U.S. 2020,” and how their situation has led to declines in health, increases in stress, and financial impacts including being forced to make changes to their work situations as a result of caregiving.

Organizations like Ability360 are working with caregivers in Arizona to support them along their journey with access to resources, programs and more in order to promote well-being and resiliency.

“Caregivers take on a very important role in empowering and assisting their loved one in exercising independence outside of a conventional congregate type setting, but we are aware of the impacts of caregiving on the caregiver” says Ability360 President and CEO Christopher Rodriguez. “In many circumstances, we can help those individuals with a pathway to getting paid for the work they already do for their family, ideally alleviating some of the financial strain and emotional burnout that caregivers sometimes face.”

That strain on family caregivers is currently being exacerbated by shortages in the workforce as the need for direct care workers is expected to rise. PHI, an organization working to transform eldercare and disability services, estimates that demand will increase 37 percent by 2030, creating nearly 8 million new job openings that will need to be filled across the country.

Access to direct care services has been an important topic for lawmakers, resulting in the introduction of bills at the state and federal levels. If passed, many of these proposed bills could provide the funds needed to support the growing demand for workers.

One such piece of proposed legislation, the Home and Community-Based Services Relief Act of 2023,would provide dedicated Medicaid funds to states for two years to enhance Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS) and supports, including recruiting and retaining direct care workers, and supporting family caregivers. The bill was introduced by U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), who acts as the chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging and is co-sponsored with 17 other democratic colleagues.

In 2022, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) announced a $1.5 billion spending plan to strengthen Arizona’s HCBS system that would impact a number of services, including increasing funds available for training and increasing the direct care workforce.

Currently, there are options out there to alleviate financial hardships, isolation and the strain that can be attributed to caregiving. For unpaid family caregivers who are either unable to work or are only able to work in limited amounts due to caring for a loved one, exploring the potential to get paid for that care may be the most viable option.

Likewise, individuals over 18 who are passionate about helping others can look into programs near them to become a direct care worker. These roles allow individuals to work a flexible schedule, provide person-centered assistance to clients, and foster the support clients need to maintain a heightened level of independence and dignity in their own lives.

Ability360 provides personalized in-home care and support for seniors and people with disabilities through their home care services programs. The organization is looking for individuals to become non-medical caregivers and will provide training to new hires. People already providing care for a family member with insurance through ALTCS may be eligible to get paid for their caregiving services, get training and access other free services. To learn more about either of these positions, potential applicants are encouraged to visit ability360.org/home-care-services.

Ability360’s home care services enable people with disabilities to participate in activities at home, at work and in the community. Clients can request a caregiver to assist with personal care, housekeeping, companionship and more. To learn more, visit ability360.org.

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