April Is National Care Workers Recognition Month Highlighting ‘The Best Of America’s Character’ Florida Caregivers Serve Patients, Families, Communities In Face Of Critical Staffing CrisisApril 5, 2023
CONTACT: Ed Gilhuly, email@example.com | (305)807-6906
MIAMI – April is national Care Workers Recognition Month, recognizing the dedication and importance of essential caregivers, such as nursing home workers, across the country.
The proclamation from the White House states: “Our message this month to care workers across America is simple: The work you do matters. You are there for families when they need you most — providing comfort, strength, and compassion that inspire us all. Your devotion to the people and communities you serve represents the best of America’s character, and we will always stand with you, ensuring you are seen, valued, and rewarded fairly for the work you do….This month, we honor their extraordinary contributions and commit to supporting them with better pay, better benefits, and the recognition they have long deserved.”
The recognition comes as a result of ongoing efforts by 1199SEIU members and partners, and as care workers in Florida face a critical staffing crisis.
“We agree with the White House, care workers deserve to celebrated as well as respected, protected, paid and staffed safely,” said Roxey Nelson, 1199SEIU Florida Executive Vice President. “We appreciate the Biden Administration’s steadfast support on this important issue.”
In addition to the proclamation, officials with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently met with 1199SEIU Florida member/leaders to discuss care challenges in the state’s nursing homes.
Members of 1199SEIU, the largest union of healthcare workers in the state, described to HHS/CMS representatives how an ongoing and worsening staffing crisis, as well as lowered state direct care standards, have put Florida’s most elderly and vulnerable patients, as well as their caregivers, at greater risk.
Staffing and retention in Florida nursing homes has been a long-term problem due to difficult and sometimes dangerous working conditions, as well as very low pay for caregivers. The White House statement highlights that care workers are “among the lowest-paid workers in America. Some juggle multiple jobs, and many leave the profession altogether in search of better options.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit nursing homes especially hard, these problems have grown more severe. Yet, the state has lowered standards while the nursing home industry makes billions of dollars in profit each year, largely coming from taxpayer-funded programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.
Direct care requirements have been steadily reduced by Florida lawmakers in Tallahassee over the past 20 years, but federal standards to ensure high quality care are expected to be announced in the coming months.
“We welcome these new efforts and are proud to be recognized by the White House for our commitment to provide the very best care possible,” said Joan Phillips, a Miami nursing home caregiver and 1199SEIU member leader. “We need everyone, including our state leaders and employers, to come together to find solutions. My fellow caregivers dedicate ourselves to our jobs and patients each day, and deserve proper support this month and every month.”
NOTE: On April 20 from 6 to 7 p.m., 1199SEIU Florida will host a virtual roundtable as part of its We Care Committee (WCC) series that brings together caregivers, health officials, community leaders and the public to discuss challenges and opportunities to deliver high quality care in the state’s nursing homes and other healthcare facilities. Save this link to attend. News media representatives should contact Ed Gilhuly at firstname.lastname@example.org to register.
ABOUT 1199SEIU: 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest healthcare union in the state, representing more than 35,000 caregivers in Florida hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities throughout the state.