HADit: Addressing Harassment, Abuse, and Discrimination of Caregivers

Low-wage workers – especially women, immigrants, and people of color – are particularly vulnerable to harassment, abuse, and discrimination in the workplace. For home care workers, the isolated and often intimate nature of our work can put us even more at risk.

For caregivers who have experienced harassment, abuse, and discrimination, the impact is more than an immediate reaction. It also effects their health, wellbeing, and quality of care. Negative health outcomes include depression, flashbacks, sleeplessness, traumatic stress disorder, and poorer physical health – which can last for years after the incident. Additionally, it also leads to increased turnover among direct care workers and lower quality of care for clients.

Prevalence of Harassment, Abuse, and Discrimination of Washington SEIU 775 Caregivers  

47% reported Verbal Abuse 

24% reported Physical Violence 

12% reported Sexual Harassment (Parent Providers were not asked about this)

 

In 2018, an SEIU 775 caregiver reported to our Union a harrowing story of the harassment and discrimination they faced while working as a caregiver. At the time, their livelihood, housing, safety, and dignity were at risk, and there was little we as a union could to do to help them because of the lack of structures in place to address harassment, abuse, and discrimination of caregivers.

Unfortunately, the experience they went through was only one of many reported to us in the past year alone.

That’s why SEIU 775 launched our HADit campaign – the campaign to address Harassment, Abuse, and Discrimination of caregivers and make the care environment safer for everyone.

SEIU 775 is working with caregivers and the aging and disability rights community including self-advocates to craft a powerful and comprehensive policy to address these issues that include:

  • Model employer policies and practices: Employers should be required to have written, comprehensive policies that are delivered to caregivers at least annually, in a way that everyone can understand.
  • Violence prevention plans, including a plan to leave unsafe situations: Employers must have violence prevention plans,  developed in conjunction with workers or their representatives. This is required in most other healthcare settings and should be required for caregiving.
  • Advance warning for caregivers: Employers must give caregivers advance warning and updates on patterns of conduct or dangers in or around the household. This needs to be done in a way that is respectful of individual privacy, while also communicating to caregivers the information we need to safely do our job.
  • Transparency: Employers of in-home based direct care workers should be required to record incidents, retain those records for at least 5 years, make those records available for inspection upon request, and report certain metrics to the State.
  • Training: The legislature should convene a multi-stakeholder work group to create recommendations around
    training for caregivers, clients, and agency supervisors.

Harassment, abuse, and discrimination of caregivers is something that can and should be addressed. We’re asking for your support to make sure:

  • Everyone feels safe at work and while giving and receiving care.
  • Everyone feels respected when giving and receiving care.
  • Everyone can continue to strengthen the long-term care workforce and system in our state.
  • And, caregivers are empowered to provide the best quality care possible.

We launched our HADit campaign at our Leadership Conference in September 2019.

Watch the Nov. 20, 2019 work session with the Washington state Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee here. Watch SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders, caregivers, agency employers, Parent Providers, and allies testify in front of the Committee in the the Jan. 15, 2020 hearing in support of Senate Bill 6205 here.

If you have a harassment, abuse, or discrimination story from your workplace that you would like to share with the Union, please contact HADit@seiu775.org.

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