A local advocate speaks out about the massive shortage of attendant care for people with disabilities

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — An El Paso native is raising awareness about the need for care workers in the border region.

Nathan Coleman is a disability advocate and a client of Caring Partners Home Care in El Paso. As his brother has cared for him for 36 years, he knows how important it is to have an attendant and how much there is a massive need for attendants.

“Attendant care has always been a problem due to the low pay they receive for their service. It’s a vulnerable service, but at the same time, providers don’t see it that way,” Coleman said.

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a massive shortage of care workers across the country. The Personal Attendant Coalition of Texas assures seniors and Texans with disabilities that they will have an attendant who can meet their needs.

“Of course we see it from both sides, they have to earn enough to make a living, and also be productive and help people with disabilities. Get the independence they need, to be able to work and go to school and just be in the community as able-bodied people. Coleman added.

This goes for people with different disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida, visual impairment or Asperger’s syndrome.

People with disabilities need someone to cook for them, bathe them or even be a companion. Especially if they don’t have a family member to confide in.

“They shouldn’t look into the money. They should look at the satisfaction they get from working with someone with a disability, making a difference to keep going, because of course having a disability can put you off in many ways,” Coleman said.

He adds that he wants people to realize that they are making a positive change in the life of a person with a disability.

As of now, attendant care is at minimum wage, but PACT is working to raise attendant salaries.

American Disabled Attendant Programs Today (ADAPT) partners with PACT to help this group of individuals live at home.

Josue Rodriguez has been a community organizer for El Paso Desert ADAPT for 10 years now and although he has cerebral syndrome and is in a wheelchair, he wants to spread the word.

“I would like to encourage people who are interested in becoming a maintenance worker to go ahead, because there is a severe shortage, a lack of benefits and low salaries. I know this may sound daunting. But that’s why ADAPT and PACT work with each of the attendants and consumers,” Rodriguez said.

Add to better wages and fight for better benefits, when it comes to community attendants.

“We encourage that you are a person with a disability, we welcome you to ADAPT. Whether you are an Attendant, we welcome you to PACT. If you want to join us in the fight for better pay and benefits,” Rodriguez said.

While it’s good to have some training in the past, Rodriguez tells KTSM that you don’t need to have basic experience to be an attendant, as everyone with a disability has different needs. It’s more about the workflow or the agency the attendant is from.

“To make life better for community workers because sometimes workers have to work two to three jobs just to make ends meet. This is one of the things that we want to be able to mitigate, it is up to the guides to have a life too.

According to El Paso Desert ADAPT, a national action will take place in Washington D.C. where different chapters from across the country will come together to advocate against the lack of attendant labor, home and community services, including the lack of integrated services. affordable and accessible. lodging.

Despite the ongoing struggle to advocate for people with disabilities and the shortage of attendants, Rodriguez says it could take months to years to see big changes, but adds that he will continue to work hard.

Coleman says if you have a disability and are on a waiting list for a companion, don’t give up because a social worker will contact you to set up an assessment to create an individual and budget plan for staying at home. home and not to an establishment.

To become an attendant, you can call or email Josue Rodriguez at (915) 449-3834 [email protected]

If you are a person with a disability and would like to become a Texas Medicaid Waver client, you can call 1(800) 633-4227 or 1(800) 252-8263.

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About Antoine L. Cassell

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