Taking Care of Our Caregivers

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Monday, May 18, 2009

The May 10 Magazine article "Marilyn Daniel's Reward" was an inspiring story highlighting the dedication of caregivers -- both the paid workers and unpaid family members -- who help our disabled and elderly citizens.

Long-term care, whether provided in homes, assisted-living residences or nursing homes, relies on dedicated people rendering hands-on assistance. Ms. Daniel and others like her are the backbone of our long-term care system.

Their compassion and work is invaluable to individuals, their families and our society.

The Department of Health and Human Services is deeply concerned about the needs of long-term care workers and maintaining an adequate and high-quality workforce. To this end, we are wrapping up the first national survey of home health aides (like Ms. Daniel) and recently completed one on nursing assistants. It is our goal to improve the attractiveness of caregiving jobs and reduce worker turnover. Ultimately, this will result in improvements in the quality of life and care of disabled and older Americans. This is critically important for our nation, given that $232 billion is spent on long-term care annually and families all over the country are facing the difficult challenge of providing and finding the best care for their loved ones.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS

Washington

The writer is U.S. secretary of health and human services.


© 2009 The Washington Post Company

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