The Coalition’s Primary Goal is to Improve the Quality of Life for Direct Caregivers
Nursing Assistants, Orderlies or Attendants; Personal Care Aides; and Home Health Aides make up the direct caregiver. Together, these are among the four fastest-growing occupations nationally and in New Mexico.
Caregivers are considered unskilled workers, with little regard for their knowledge or skills. Their median annual income is $17,000, which is why nearly 50% of direct care workers rely on some form of public benefits. Besides low wages and a lack of training, many have no health benefits, paid sick days or compensation for transportation between clients. Those who are offered health insurance report they are unable even to afford the employee portion of insurance.
Labor market projections indicate occupational growth of 50% over the next ten years nationally. In New Mexico, we’ll see these occupations growth from 47,963 in 2009 to 60,728 in 2016, an increase of 27 percent! Many more care for a loved one without pay.
New Mexico’s population is aging. The largest population increase from 2000 to 2010 was among those ages 60-64, a 5.8% increase. New Mexico ranks 39th in the nation in percentage of population age 65 and older. By 2030, however, we will rank fourth in the nation for persons who are elderly. Three million of the projected 5 million direct caregivers in the nation will be working in people’s homes (rather than institutions) by 2020.
This is a cross-cutting project that serves those in the most rural and isolated areas of New Mexico. It serves persons who are elderly as well as those with disabilities as well as their caregivers and their care connectors. Through this project, we are developing:
- Policies that advance health equity, especially among racially and ethnically diverse populations and underserved populations/communities by reaching out to and supporting persons who are elderly and those with disabilities in all parts of the state, targeting those in rural and isolated areas;
- Policy implementation that builds on research, evaluation and advocacy, with our focus being on understating the caregiver needs of those in the most rural and isolated parts of the state;
- Workforce development initiatives that provide a pathway to health care professions, the use of traditional and nontraditional cultural and linguistic competency. Our program has the potential to develop natural community supports;
- Stronger organizations that can improve the health and quality of life of those who live in the most rural and isolated parts of New Mexico; we are improving the health and quality of life for care recipients as well as caregivers by listening to their needs.