How much would someone have to pay you to change a strangers' wound dressings, dump out their bedpans, and give them thorough sponge baths? Home healthcare workers do those things and more. However, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, most of these workers don't even make $10 an hour.
The demand for home healthcare workers is dramatically increasing every year, yet the wages are low, the benefits meager, and the advancement opportunities nonexistent. Meanwhile, New York's senior population is growing at an unprecedented pace, and affordable healthcare is out of reach for many low-income and middle-class New Yorkers. The Altman Foundation recognizes that this is a serious problem, and it's making sure funding gets to the most crucial places. (Read Altman Foundation: New York City Grants).
In 2013, The Altman Foundation awarded a $20,000 grant to ALIGN's New York Caring Across Generations initiative. This grassroots program aims to increase support for people who provide and receive home healthcare. One of the main objectives of the initiative is to improve home care training, establish career ladders for home health workers, and pave the way for undocumented home care workers to achieve citizenship.
To launch the initative, ALIGN surveyed over 1,200 workers, recipients, and organizations. The results? Both care recipients and caregivers cited as their highest priority the need to raise wages for home care workers.
But this isn't the only home healthcare grant that Altman handed out last year. The foundation also awarded a $35,000 six-month grant to The Bridge, Inc., to grow its four-borough home health program according to state requirements. Two-thirds of Altman's recent $150,000 grant to the New York chapter of the Alzheimer's Association went toward a dementia training program for home-care workers, and its $25,000 grant to Sunnyside Community Services Inc. went toward launching a Spanish-language track within the home health aide training program.
It seems that the Altman Foundation is on to something. To take care of our parents and grandparents, we're going to need the help of immigrants. And to utilize immigrants' help most effectively, we're going to have to pay them more, train them better, and provide them with a better life.