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‘Direct Care Workforce Act’ Introduced In New Mexico Legislature

 Commentary: Every eight seconds, someone in the United States turns 65 years old-that’s 10,800 Americans a day. Here in New Mexico the senior population is growing. The goal of this legislation is to create a permanent Direct Care Workforce Subcommittee that would provide assistance with quality of life for those 65 years of age and older, as well as those with disabilities.

“The demographic makeup of our state is changing, so we need to revisit the way we provide support for our seniors and people with disabilities,” said Senator Michael Padilla. “We need to start working on a long-term plan for long-term care.”

“We introduce this legislation to create a system that ensures quality care for our senior population and those with disabilities,” said Representative Sarah Maestas Barnes. “It will also provide for the sustainability of a resilient professional caregiving workforce. A goal of this legislation is to keep New Mexico as one of the most attractive places in the country to retire and live out one’s life.”

Ninety percent of people over age 65 prefer to remain in their homes as long as possible. Studies show that health outcomes are significantly improved when people recuperate at home versus in hospital or long-term external care facilities. The Direct Care Subcommittee will allow New Mexico to develop innovative new ways to support families and professional caregivers, with the hope of improving health outcomes for our senior population and those with disabilities.

“The members of the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition are pleased with this bill, for a number of reasons,” said Adrienne R. Smith, President and CEO New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition. “The subcommittee will move New Mexico to the forefront of states with flexible, responsive, high-quality assistance that allows seniors and persons with disabilities to remain in the community. And, while recognizing the diversity of our stat’s culture and workforce, it will promote direct care workforce as a pathway to a good job, with opportunities for development and career advancement. We strongly support this legislation.”