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Coalition Proposes More Training for Home Caregivers

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December 31, 2007

Olympia, WA – A group of advocates for Washington seniors and disabled citizens soon will ask the State Legislature to increase the amount of training that in-home caregivers receive. They say the current training standards are inadequate, and they also want training to be available to family members.

Wardell Henderson of Omak is caring for a son with autism. He says more training for caregivers would be an improvement.

"As a father, I feel it would be necessary. I would want individuals certified; I want them to have some kind of training. Gosh, you need a license to cut hair!"

A new survey of family care providers found that 84 percent of them feel the state's current 32-hour training requirement for paid caregivers isn't enough. The legislature will be asked to increase the standard to 85 hours, and to make training available to family members who receive state money.

Henderson and his wife rely on relatives to help them. Training has been hard to find, he says, especially because they live in a rural area. As his son has grown up, he says he wishes he'd had more training to handle the challenges over the years.

"If you don't think that it's needed now, you will pray for it in the future, because your situation will change. One day, the 7-year-old is going to be 26 years old, and maybe 300 pounds, like my son."

The higher training standards are supported by AARP Washington, the Alzheimer's Assn., the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute, Resident Councils of Washington, SEIU Local 775, the Washington State Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Washington Senior Lobby, and Washington Dept. of Labor and Industries. The survey was conducted by the Feldman Group.

AARP estimates that, in Washington alone, family members shoulder about $7 billion worth of care-giving work every year.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA