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10-Hour Day Is Brief for a Home Health Aide

Womens eNews - Wed, 18 Jan 2012 18:24 GMT
Author: Womens eNews
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Scant Savings And she would have little personal savings to fall back on. Talag also has no set retirement plans or savings. Her age places her in good company with other home health aides and personal care aides who, on average, are in their mid-40s, at the older end of the age spectrum for women in the civilian labor force. By 2018, about a third of personal care aides are expected to be aged 55 and older, according to a December 2011 Paraprofessional Healthcare report, "Caring in America." Few of these workers have any sort of retirement or other savings to tap into as they age, says Robin Shaffert, a policy consultant for Caring Across Generations, a national coalition working to promote the rights of home care workers. An estimated 2.3 to 2.5 million long-term home care workers are currently employed in the United States, according to Paraprofessional Healthcare. Talag is paid weekly, by personal checks. She isn't sure if this all comes out of her employer's pocket or if a portion is subsidized by Medicaid. After preparing and serving her employer breakfast she helps her dress and stands by during the hip exercises supervised by the physical therapist. That day her employer suggests that Talag start helping her do these exercises on her own. Talag doesn't have formal training in medicine or health care and this is her third elderly client with health needs. She received a bachelor's degree in accounting in her native Philippines, but never put it to use once she immigrated to the United States in the late 1990s. First Bill of Rights The New York City-based Domestic Workers United claims a membership of about 4,000 nannies, housekeepers and home care health workers. But Talag, one of about 200,000 domestic workers employed in New York, has not joined this group, which in 2010 successfully lobbied the state for the passage of the country's first bill of rights for domestic workers. "I have a busy, full life," she says. "I spend time with my family and with the Filipino community." Christine Yvette Lewis, an organizer for Domestic Workers United, told Women's eNews in December that in the first year following the passage of the bill of rights it helped recoup half a million dollars in wages for members through the New York Labor Board. Talag isn't aware of the bill of rights and doesn't seem to think she needs to know about it. Doing a good job and building relationships with clients is more her priority. By late afternoon she has cleaned the house and helped her employer socialize with her friends. Her lunch break was repeatedly interrupted by her employer's calls for help to move around and find things. When she leaves to pick up dinner in the late afternoon she seems relieved. In the car, she straps in and pops a bite-sized Almond Joy into her mouth; her favorite, she says with a smile. She's hoping she will be able to leave by 6 p.m., but recently, it's been closer to 7 or 8. When she returns her employer is where she left her, reclining in the living room, waiting for dinner to arrive.

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