Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The "Invisible Workforce"

I have been disabled for almost thirty-eight years and have been dependent on someone to help with my daily needs every one of those days. I could not survive without my personal care attendants (PCA's). Recently, our governor has decided to cut funds to the state-run program that pays for the roughly 40,000 PCA's in Minnesota.

Those people take care of approximately 14,000 Minnesotans who are in need of daily assistance much like I do. There is a tremendous difference in age and what these people need. But, the point is, we all need help of some sort or another.

It seems to me a very short-sighted solution to a problem that will get much worse if we cut back on this program and the people with disabilities who benefit from them end up in hospitals and long-term care facilities because their needs are not being met which leads to more problems that don't allow those individuals to live in their own homes.

Gail Rosenblum wrote a great piece in the Minneapolis StarTribune last month outlining the issue. You can read the article by clicking here. There are also some good comments following her column.

One of the things I especially liked about the column was the fact Bridget Siljander was quoted. I'm proud to say Bridget was one of my PCA's when she first started in this field twelve years ago. It's very rewarding to see how she has grown into a responsible and tireless advocate for her peers and people with disabilities.

She has even gotten very involved in the leadership of a national organization for direct service professionals called the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. You can learn more about their organization by clicking here.

I welcome your comments.




Earl Hipp said...

Now that just makes me angry. How cruel a society we're becoming. Any suggestions for action?

Elise Nakhnikian said...

Hey, Mike
Thanks for telling people about that article.

I was pretty thrilled to see Bridget quoted in it too, since she's a colleague of mine at the Direct Care Alliance (www.directcarealliance.org). I guess you got to watch Bridget come into her own as a direct care worker advocate. I get to watch her using all those skills and smarts and passion and empathy and psychological savvy to advocate for herself and other direct care workers. It's literally awesome.

Bridget Siljander said...

Mike, Thanks for your article highlighting the importance of PCA services! It was very nice of you to mention me. You provide a lot of weight to the overall advocacy voice because you have firsthand experience with us workers. I have truly enjoyed and loved knowing you for my entire career in direct care/support services. You got me off on the right foot and have taught me so much over the years. It is an honor to call you my friend and mentor. Thanks again for everything, Mike!