Fairfax County Honors Direct Care Workers

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“We love our jobs”. Mrs. Park, a direct support worker at Sunrise Senior Living, stated, “They train us well, but caring comes from the heart”. “Professional means a commitment to a career of caring and dedication of purpose”, exclaimed another. These direct support workers are among the eighty-seven percent of Direct Care Workers surveyed who expressed their satisfaction with taking care of our long term care families in the Fairfax community.

Just who are these direct care workers? They are men and women who provide personal care, comfort, and companionship in our residential homes, nursing homes, home health agencies, group homes, adult day care centers, assisted living facilities, and in an individual’s own home. The term “direct care worker” refers to a wide range of occupations including nursing assistants and aides, personal care and home health aides, residential counselors and program assistants and assistants, companions, sitters, certified medication technicians, homemakers and many others who provide daily, hands-on care to seniors and adults with disabilities in various settings. Direct care workers form the centerpiece of the formal long-term care system for many of our families in the Fairfax community.

As the baby boomer generation ages in our community, studies report that demand for direct care workers is expected to increase over 40% through 2012. Higher than average employment growth and marketplace competition will make it difficult to recruit and retain new direct care worker employees. This demand highlights a severe shortage of front-line workers making it critical that our community recognizes the contribution these service champions provide to our region.

In order to bring recognition to these valued professionals, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors is proclaiming June 12 through June 16, 2006 as “Direct Care Workers Week”. The third annual Proclamation Reception & Ceremony will be held on Monday, June 5, 2006 at the Government Center in Fairfax. Members of the Long Term Care Coordinating Council and direct care workers from throughout Fairfax County are expected to attend. Keynote speaker Patty Harris, Executive Director of Direct Care Alliance, stated, “I would imagine that if we understood more deeply the incredible task direct-care workers undertake daily to ensure the delivery of quality services for our loved ones, the celebration of the men and women who do this work would go well beyond the walls of the long term care system.” The Long Term Care Coordinating Council (LTCCC) focuses its work to enhance and support the long term care community. http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/hd/ltccc/

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