Through classes at Brandeis University, I have gained a greater understanding of the discrimination faced by people with disabilities and/or people of color in obtaining medical care and social services. Often times, accessing a doctor free of charge, getting needed medical equipment, or receiving government benefits are extremely difficult for people to access. Supplemental Security Income, which benefits people with disabilities who have limited income or resources, unemployment benefits, and care work—defined as care processes in the services of others done by family, kin or a professional—are just some of the many examples of the services that people need but must fight to obtain.
Care work, for example, is a difficult job that takes many forms and is often devalued and goes unpaid. This could be an adult caring for their parent, a parent caring for their adult child with developmental disabilities, looking over someone else’s children, and so much more. People do the work because they love and care for the person, and what they are doing is labor. The two are not mutually exclusive. Yet many people who perform care work do so without financial compensation, which is further complicated because this work tends to fall on the shoulders of women and particularly women of color. There are ways for people to get paid for care work; however, the policies include stipulations making it difficult for folks to actually obtain the benefits.
In exciting news, a member at Riverside Community Care was actually able to receive monetary compensation for their care work. This is a great accomplishment and one that is not easy. This truly shows the persistence of the member and care coordinator because, in order to plead their case, they must have been extremely prepared.
Hearing goods news such as this reminds me of the importance of the work I do as a member of the team. My internship is involved with the Behavioral Health Community Partners program, which provides care management and coordination to adults with significant behavioral health needs. I have worked on tasks like updating patient records to make sure new care team members are added and phone numbers are up to date. While this can be a tedious task, the member mentioned above serves as a great example for why this work is needed. It is essential to have the correct information to best support the member. Care coordinators need the correct information to know who is on this member’s care team (i.e., their nurse, PCP, psychiatrist, etc.). Then, not only do they need the care team names, but care coordinators also need accurate phone numbers to contact the care team in support of the member. Updated records help members and care coordinators to apply for government benefits and services—a long, detailed process that requires accurate information. The little things really do matter.