What is Direct Care

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 without pay.

And, 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.

 

Organizational Mission, Purpose and Statement of Goals

The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition (NMDCC) was created to enhance and promote family and professional direct care workers, supporting their professional development and advancing issues of importance to the field of long-term and direct care. A caregiver is defined as any person who serves those who are elderly and/or disabled as their primary occupation.

We advocate for a well-trained, diverse direct care workforce, promoting education, training, benefits, wages and professional development caregivers may better serve those who are elderly and those with disabilities.

The Coalition’s primary goal is to improve the quality of life for direct caregivers. We provide the space and opportunity for family and professional caregivers to define and advocate on topics of importance to them–be it higher wages, better benefits and workplace supports, or training and education needed for improving their own professional development and that of the field. As a result, direct caregivers become the voice for enhancing and promoting their professionalism and image of the field. Caregivers themselves were responsible for setting the purpose and activities of the Coalition which include:

  • Increase caregivers’ career and advancement opportunities.
  • Educate caregivers about job benefits like affordable health insurance.
  • Create and advance opportunities for social and professional networking.
  • Create a unified voice for caregivers in New Mexico and in the United States on issues of importance to their training and professional development.

We offer and administer a nationally-recognized Credential that measures eight core competency areas that all direct care workers should know to perform their jobs at the highest levels. We host community-wide trainings and events for New Mexico caregivers, focused on information-sharing and including policy and leadership development. We are very active in advocacy especially at the national level.

We envision a day when those who care for the most vulnerable in our society are well-trained, adequately paid, working in jobs they love and have opportunities for advancement.