Come Care With Me: Legislators Shadow Direct-Care Workers

US Representative Jan Schakowsky

Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky assists home care worker Gilda Pipersburgh as she assists her client, an 81-year-old Holocaust survivor.

"Home care workers must be adequately trained and compensated to ensure that our nation has the strong, stable workforce it needs to meet the rapidly increasing demand for quality in-home services," said Representative Schakowsky. "I will continue to do all I can to fight for resources for home care workers."

Representative Kate Hogan

Massachusetts State Representative Kate Hogan assists home care worker Cam King as she works in the home of her client.

"How can we increase opportunities for home care workers to grow in their jobs," asks Rep. Hogan, "...and let them know that what they're doing is so important and so essential to our society?"

Senator Pat Jehlen

Massachusetts State Senator Pat Jehlen assists homemaker/pca Philomena Ahern as she works in the home of her 102-year-old client Stella.

"It's incredible to me that we can expect people to do this kind of work, which is so important, for this little money," says Senator Jehlen, "...we need to pay them enough to live on."

The Pennsylvania Compilation

This compilation video provides highlights from the Come Care With Me days of five Pennsylvania state legislators as they were given a firsthand look into the daily lives of direct-care workers.

Includes Rep. Mark Longietti, Rep. Matt Smith, Rep. Jesse White, Rep. Dan Frankel, and Sen. Jay Costa. [more]

Representative Lisa K. Heddens

Iowa State Rep. Lisa K. Heddens is featured in this video as she job shadows two direct-care workers at a nursing home and learns about their work.

“You can watch it on TV or you can read about it,” said Heddens, “but until you really actually do the work, you don’t really understand all that’s involved.”

Representative Mark Longietti

Pennsylvania State Rep. Mark Longietti shadowed direct-care worker Debbie Smith in a group home setting which houses four individuals with mental retardation and additional health complications.

“We need them [direct-care workers] to be here to work and take care of you, and they need to have health care so that they can do this job,” said Longietti. [more]

Representative Matt Smith

Pennsylvania State Representative Matt Smith shadowed direct care worker Faith Buckel as she provided home care for 90-year-old Ann Dombrowski.

“It is incumbent on policy makers to eliminate the high turnover in this field and to work toward attracting and retaining workers in the vital area,” Smith said. [more]

Representative Jesse White

Pennsylvania State Representative Jessie White accompanied home care worker Karen Goroncy as she visited patient Larry Smith, a 28-year-old man with cerebral palsy.

“It’s an extremely broken system,” said White. “It’s a sad state of affairs when people struggle just to pay for health insurance, let alone health care.” [more]

Representative Dan Frankel

Pennsylvania State Representative Dan Frankel visited the Essex House in Pittsburgh to shadow an in-home care professional and host a forum with residents and other direct-care workers.

“It’s ironic that health care benefits have never been part of the compensation package for direct care workers who provide much needed health services,” Frankel said. [more]

Senator Jay Costa

Pennsylvania State Senator Jay Costa visited the home of Mrs. Vidmar who suffers from diabetes, a hip fracture, and coronary artery disease and shadowed direct-care worker Mozella Langston.

Langston, like many other home care workers, does not have health insurance. Though her employer, ResCare, offers a health plan, Langston’s low wages prevent her from enrolling.

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