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Washington Initiative #1029: Homecare Workers

What training should be required to be a homecare worker?

I often wonder what might happen if one my parents became incapable of taking care of themselves. Would I — could I — stay home and provide care for them? In Oregon the answer would probably be yes. At least that is what Beverly Mackey did when her daughter became gravely ill with a kidney disease. When her daughter could no longer take care of herself, Mackey registered with the state to be a homecare worker. The process took about six weeks. Now, six years later, her daughter has had a kidney transplant and is doing much better. Mackey, meanwhile, continues as a homecare worker for other people in need of comfort. She cooks their meals, takes them to the store, cleans their bathrooms, and rubs cream into their dry skin. And the state pays her to do it (and gives her medical benefits).

In Oregon you have to pass a criminal background check to register with the state as a homecare worker, but there isn’t any mandatory training. There are plenty of classes available for people to attend (and you even get paid to go!).

In Washington homecare workers deal with a different system. And a change to that system is on the ballot in Washington this fall. Supporters of Initiative #1029 want the number of hours of training for home care workers to increase from 34 to 75 hours. They also want to require federal criminal background checks (there are currently state checks) for all homecare workers. The opposition argues that the Initiative will cut jobs and deplete the pool of qualified workers.

Are you homecare worker? What training did you receive? How much did you need? How prepared did you feel to care for your patient? Do you receive homecare services? What background or education do you want your providers to have? Whether in Oregon or Washington, what do you think of Initiative #1029?

Photo credit: MonkeyC.Net / Flickr / Creative Commons

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