I wanted to share a quick update with you on our Care Safe initiative. Based on your feedback, this effort has been about protecting Virginia home care workers and residential care facilities workers from coronavirus, so that they can safely care for our most vulnerable.
Why is personal protective equipment (PPE) for home care workers so important?
There are more than 20,000 home care workers across Virginia providing regular aid to older adults and people with disabilities. They support patients’ activities of daily living, assist with mobility, and keep them fed, bathed, and dressed. They allow Virginians to remain in their own homes, improving their quality of life while easing the burden on long-term care facilities. In this essential work, social distancing is impossible.
Home care workers are health care heroes. But they aren’t being treated that way. In PPE distribution, Virginia home care workers haven’t been prioritized as members of the essential health care workforce during the coronavirus pandemic. These workers need masks, gloves, and other protective gear – especially because most of their patients are high-risk older adults.
Here’s what we have done to help:
We have been working with SEIU 512, a home care union, to advocate for access to PPE. I sent a letter to the administration asking for home care workers to be prioritized in PPE distribution, and have pushed for this with the Departments of Health, Medical Assistance Services, and Emergency Management. It seems to be paying off. We’re hopeful that more PPE for home care workers will be available locally very soon – stay tuned.
We have also been in touch with representatives of nursing homes and assisted living facilities to hear what they need to ensure adequate PPE and widespread testing for staff. I’m curious – Do you know someone working at a long-term care facility who doesn’t have the PPE or testing they need? Have them send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.