WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich announced that the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition will receive $159,778 to provide workplace health and safety training and education for home health care workers and caregivers. The grant was awarded through the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Susan Harwood Developmental Capacity Building Grant Program. The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition will use the awarded funding to design and implement a participatory, learner-centered health and safety program. The training will be provided in English and Spanish for home care workers, home health aides and personal care aides who provide in-home care for older adults and people with disabilities. It will be designed specifically for workers with lower levels of literacy and English language proficiency, and will cover topics including worker rights and employee responsibilities, infection control and ergonomics.
"Caregivers are an integral part of health care for some of New Mexico’s most vulnerable, and this grant will help the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition provide interactive health and safety training in English and Spanish to many of the hardest-to-reach home health care workers in our state," Udall said. "We need to ensure that our growing health care workforce is well-informed about how to protect against workplace safety hazards, and I'm proud to support this funding to help caregivers in New Mexico do their jobs as effectively and safely as possible."
"Families across New Mexico, including those in our rural and tribal communities, deserve access to high-quality health care no matter where they live," Heinrich said. "Direct caregivers play an important role in service delivery for New Mexicans, many of whom would otherwise have great difficulty accessing care. Caregivers face unique challenges as they provide care in the homes of elderly and disabled New Mexicans. I am pleased that this funding will provide professional development and safety training in both English and Spanish for these workers on the front lines of health care delivery, and I will continue working to ensure we find innovative ways to boost health care access across New Mexico."
The one-year award will enable the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition to train 500 direct caregivers and provide 2,000 hours of health and safety trainee contact for some of the hardest-to-reach health care workers in the region. The need for home health care workers is expected to continue to grow as the baby boomer generation ages and the population of older Americans increases. As the demand for home health care services increases, home health care workers can face a variety of health and safety hazards, including ergonomic hazards, bloodborne pathogens, violence, dangerous animals and other unsafe and unsanitary conditions. The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition seeks to support and promote family and professional direct care workers through professional development and the advancement of issues important to the field of long-term and direct care.
The grant was one of 77 federal health and safety grants awarded to nonprofit organizations nationwide through the Susan Harwood Training Grants Program, which provides training and education to small business employers and underserved vulnerable workers in high-hazard industries.