116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
AARP called on the Iowa Legislature to professionalize Iowa's largest workforce - Direct Care Workers, asking the question, “Is Iowa Prepared to Care?” for our rapidly aging population during a news conference this morning at the Iowa Statehouse.
AARP Iowa State Director Kent Sovern urged Iowa's lawmakers to take action and pass Senate File 2298, a bill to boost professionalism among direct care workers by establishing core state standards for training and create career pathways for advance and specialization, and creates a Board to oversee these professional standards. “AARP is pleased and proud to champion this effort to professionalize this workforce,” said Sovern.
With an estimated 73,000 direct care workers in Iowa, these paid caregivers make up the largest segment of Iowa's workforce. Moreover, demand for direct care services is high and growing. Iowa will need an additional 12,000 direct care workers by 2012. High turnover is a persistent challenge.
AARP Iowa State President Tony Vola addressed how this legislation will meet the needs and expectations of the more than 375,000 AARP members in Iowa for quality care. “It is interesting to note that seven years ago, 8 out of 10 AARP Iowans surveyed said it is important for Iowa to certify direct care workers, and about a quarter of them said they think these workers are already licensed. This bill provides a great platform for training; it provides an entry for people who want to get into the profession; it provides a great acknowledgement for those who are currently in the profession, and most important, it's just the right thing to do,” said Vola.
AARP volunteer Ken Crouchman of Clive whose parents are live in assisted living facilities, said staff turnover is a real concern for his family and his parents' quality of care. “I see the toll that this ever-changing parade of caregivers takes on my parents, and I feel the recommendations of Iowa's Direct Care Workers will help improve their situation. I believe Senate File 2298 will go a long way to elevate the profession and better serve Iowa's long-term care needs."
Iowa's direct care workers have taken the lead in attempting to address the challenges of turnover and quality assurance by spending the past two years developing the recommendations proposed by Senate File 2298, a groundbreaking approach unlike any other state.
Iowa Caregivers Association Public Policy Consultant John Hale said, “Senate File 2298 puts us on the path to providing the quality of care and services that every Iowan wants for their loved ones and for themselves. “It's a bill that creates a win-win-win-win: for providers of health and long term care services, for consumers who access those services, for workers who provide the service and for the taxpayers who pay a large portion of the bill.
"Senate File 2298 is another example of where Iowa way out in front of the nation. The work that's being done in Iowa to build a bigger and better direct care workforce, and to enhance the quality of care and services for Iowans, is work that leads the nation,” Hale said.
Currently, Iowa has professional oversight boards and requires qualitative credentialing for all plumbers, hair stylists, massage therapists and a host of other occupations, but does not require a similar credentialing for all direct care workers.
“It's time to act to give Iowa's direct care workers the recognition and professional status they want and deserve, and to create the environment necessary for workers to meet the growing health care needs of our state,” said Sovern. “It is time for the Iowa Legislature to support the recommendations of the Direct Care Worker Task Force and professionalize Direct Care Workers by taking action to pass Senate File 2298.”