From The Book: (Excerpted from the four page chapter)
"It could be, in this country—in this great land of plenty—that we've had things too good, for too long a time.
Maybe we take some important things for granted. Maybe we overlook many of the valuable contributions that others provide for us, and to us—the efforts of others,
which make our lives more comfortable. I'm saying that, we, as a nation, have overlooked the contributions of caregivers as being necessary elements to the
total way of life in this country. The word caregiver is not your average household word, and most people in the United States would be hard pressed to
provide a comfortable definition of the word."
"The word deserves—and the caregivers themselves, deserve—more recognition.
So let's do it here. Let's make an issue of thanking these "Saints" and "Angels," and look into what makes them such
a valuable part of the fabric of our society. Let's talk about their (and our) problems and see what we can do to improve the working conditions of the caregiver
in our society. Let's develop an attitude and impetus that will allow young people searching for their place in a future work force contribution, to view the job
as a satisfactory lifelong career, not just an occupation."
"I prefer to take a positive approach to the total issue of caregiving, even though there are those who would criticize and
disrupt the efforts of a portion of our nation's caregiving effort. I would like to think that, within the system in which they are forced to function, caregivers
by-and-large, are doing a fantastic job. Unfortunately, there are a few parts of the system that work against them." My thinking is that the system of Medicaid dependent
nursing homes creates this situation, because of two main problems—less than satisfactory working conditions, and the lack of a decent salary for the
caregivers. When the nursing home itself must operate within a "barebones" budget, how could conditions and pay possibly be any better for the workers in
the trenches—the caregivers?"
"Now, let's make the situation even worse. As the need for care is about to explode across the nation, due to
the demographics of a baby boomer generation, we see the number of people available to give care, in fact, going down! Yes, the number of
workers seeking careers in the health care industry is "heading south." Current studies indicate that we are on our way to being short from 400,000 to 800,000 nurses (professional care)
by the end of the decade. In addition, the number of available workers is less for personal, or nursing assistant care, in comparison to the number of bodies
in need of care."
"This information tracks identically with what the President of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, Mr. Val
Halamandaris says, when he states that "good people (executives, nurses, and home care aides) have left the field of home care in droves." Unless we train
teen-agers and the very youngest of the "Echo boomers" to become care providers, we're short of folks, folks. Not a very comforting thought to those who see themselves
in a position of needing care in twenty or thirty years."
"Two items alone, increased career type compensation, and technologically improved working conditions, will help attract
and retain workers who have a genuine predilection for caregiving. The result would be a greater assurance of quality caregiving, and help remove the
perception of some people, that caregiving in many situations is simply "warehousing." In addition, a concerted program to seek out and prosecute Senior fraud and elder
abuse (through a single purpose agency, as suggested in the Elder Abuse chapter) will go a long way toward ensuring that America's retirees and elderly can expect a greater
degree of protection against what already may be on its way to becoming a national disgrace. We can do better. And with the coming increase in
care needs, we'd better be getting better, at doing better, NOW!"