Wages for Caring: Compensating Family Care of the Elderly

Wages for Caring: Compensating Family Care of the Elderly

Wages for Caring: Compensating Family Care of the Elderly

Wages for Caring: Compensating Family Care of the Elderly

Synopsis

This volume examines policies and programs of compensation for family caregivers of the disabled elderly from a broad analytical perspective, weighing current policies of home care services against principles of access, equity, quality, and funding of long-term care. The authors focus on programs and policies that already exist which could be adjusted to include families and to promote support of family caregiving. In assessing the potential of broad implementation of wages for caring, they contend that if implemented appropriately, family compensation may offer benefits not available through any other kind of service system.

Excerpt

This book evolved from a small project with a straightforward idea. We were ap- proached in 1985 by the Illinois Association of Family Service Agencies and asked if we could help them investigate the question of paying families for home care services, an issue that had come up in their advocacy work with the Illinois Department on Aging Community Care program. Toward that end, we undertook a national survey and some analysis of two programs. We later expanded our ef- forts to compare the current Illinois program to one in a neighboring state, Mich- igan, and added studies of policymakers, family caregivers, and consumers.

At the beginning we never expected this effort to become a book, nor did we anticipate the challenge presented by our attempt to integrate our studies into a comprehensive analysis. The basis for this effort was friendship combined with a willingness to contemplate outrageous possibilities. We are convinced that collaboration was worth it and has pushed us far beyond our previous work.

Ultimately we have integrated the several studies we have done into a whole, set within a national and international context, with a powerful message: that family caregivers are often overlooked as full partners in framing formal home care programs, and joint partnerships are possible and often preferred by consumers. This information is particularly salient at a time when the nation is in a serious recession; states are cutting back on provisions for family support, health care, and every other human service; and long-term care reform may easily slip from the public consciousness and agenda.

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