My sister has MS. She has relied on personal care aides to help her manage the basic tasks of daily living — bathing, dressing, grocery shopping, preparing meals, taking medication and just getting out of the house. The aides who’ve helped her over the years have made an immeasurable difference in what she’s been able to accomplish while living with physical limitations.
These workers – who provide the critical long-term services and support that make it possible for my sister and other people who live with disabilities, to lead full and independent lives – are considered to be companions to the elderly or disabled, the equivalent of a glorified babysitter.
Personal care aides are skilled professionals and not babysitters. They perform physically demanding jobs that require knowing how to be caring and foster independence, communicate well, all the while performing intimate tasks and being sensitive to the patients’ needs.
These workers are the backbone of the home care system and need to be recognized as such. Recognition as a valuable contributor in the home healthcare workforce as well as at the agency level will help ensure that people with disabilities and the rapidly growing elderly population have access to support services at home, so that people like my sister, can lead full and meaningful lives.