The caring, selfless, and dedicated direct care workers who assist our state’s disabled population are in dire need of our help. More specifically, since they are not classified as “essential health care workers” during this COVID-19 pandemic, these workers are being expected to work without Personal Protective Equipment, since masks and other medical supplies are being directed and rationed toward workers deemed “essential health care workers,” which includes nursing home staff, but not direct care workers in our state’s group homes.
This is a problem for several reasons, including the fact that our direct care workers are being deemed non-essential, which could not be any further from the truth.
With over 1000 adult Rhode Islanders with disabilities in our state’s group homes, this is a potential crisis that is being ignored as the threat for COVID-19 to run through our group homes is just as dangerous as it is to our nursing homes. But without proper equipment, our direct care workers and their families are being put at unnecessary risk while they help, care for, and assist some of our state’s most vulnerable citizens.
As a father to a child with a developmental disability and a husband to a direct care worker, this situation is especially troubling and I know how frightening it is for the residents of our group homes, our direct care workers and their families.
Simply put, this situation needs to end and our direct care workers deserve the proper and necessary medical and protective equipment that our other health care workers are receiving. If one member of a group home contracts COVID-19, it will pose the same disastrous threat to our group home residents and workers as it does in our nursing homes and hospitals.
Direct care workers need to be classified as “essential health care workers” for the safety of our group home residents, their families, our state as a whole, and themselves