Colorado Caring Across Generations – co-anchored by Colorado Jobs With Justice, 9to5 Colorado and El Centro Humanitario – has released a report documenting the growing and urgent need for affordable, quality in-home health care in the state. The report cites the explosive growth of seniors in Colorado – between 2010 and 2030, the senior population will grow by 150 percent – as the driving force behind the need to industrialize Colorado’s caring economy.
“Our seniors and people with disabilities want to and should be able to live independently in their homes with dignity and the care they need,” said Erin Bennett, Colorado director of 9to5 and co-chair of Colorado Jobs With Justice. “It is absolutely essential that we act now to develop a professionalized workforce to be able to handle the exploding need for home care.”
The report features firsthand accounts from caregivers for seniors and the disabled, including family caregivers like Beverly Grant, the mother of a daughter with disabilities. Grant explains, “The best place for my daughter Blayre is with me, at home where she can thrive and be around loved ones. The critical support of home-care workers – and a public program that helps us cover the cost – have made it possible for her to stay at home. People with disabilities and elders are depending on an adequately trained and compensated workforce.”
To meet the growing care demands among elder Coloradans and people with disabilities, not only must the home-care workforce grow, but the jobs must be quality jobs. The report documents the low pay, minimal training and lack of opportunities for career advancement that face home-care workers, ultimately leading to high job turnover in the field. As the report states, more than 67 percent of home-care workers in Colorado earn less than $21,000/year.
“I was dedicated to providing quality care to my clients, but the fact is it was a dead-end job in terms of low pay and no path to better jobs,” said Araceli Diaz de Leon, a former home health-care worker in Thornton, Colorado. “I’m working in another field because I just couldn’t make ends meet in home health care.”
The report has already attracted the attention of legislators, many of who are considering federal action to support the country’s age wave and rapidly expanding home-care workforce. U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) praised the research, issuing a letter of support which read in part:
“In particular we applaud your contribution to the research of issues affecting the care of our aging population and to the development of solutions in caring for our parents, grandparents and neighbors…. As our loved ones age, living with dignity and integrity should always be an option…. The release of this report gives us a roadmap to begin work in that direction….”