Seven Iowa organizations unite to address dire shortage of direct care workers

I have personally experienced the devastating impacts of the direct care workforce shortage. My 88-year-old Dad has been living in an assisted living facility for nearly a year. There have been multiple occasions where he has not received the care he required.

He has been left lying on the cold, hard bathroom floor for an hour even though he pulled the emergency alert cord as he fell. He has not been put to bed on time, forcing him to call for help in the wee hours of the morning after falling asleep in his chair. And the most recent incident was the worst yet. A wound from a biopsy was not properly cared for and it almost went septic, resulting in him being hospitalized for several days.

You might think I’m in denial, but the staff do truly care about my Dad and are doing the best they can. There just aren’t enough of them to go around.

Direct care workers are unsung heroes. They work with the aged, the sick, people with disabilities, or those facing mental health challenges, to ensure they lead dignified, fulfilling lives. These champions wear many hats—from personal care assistants and home care companions to job coaches and direct support professionals.

Yet, alarmingly, the direct care workforce is facing a daunting shortage of workers. Without them, countless individuals—the most vulnerable among us—are left without the personalized care they deserve. Direct care is not just about assistance; it’s about empowering lives, fostering independence, and nurturing human connections. The absence of direct care workers is a critical emergency.

Spearheaded by the Iowa Council on Developmental Disabilities, seven proactive state organizations in Iowa united, driven by a shared concern. Their mission? To find people who want to provide hands-on care for those in need. They unveiled heartwarming tales of real-life caregivers, who, with unwavering passion, have served the disabled community. They hope that enough people will recognize themselves in these stories, and seek the rewards of becoming caregivers, to make a dent in Iowa’s caregiver shortage.

Together, these seven organizations want to build up Iowa’s direct care workforce. They champion a vision where everyone, regardless of physical ability, is cherished, safeguarded, and integrated into the heart of their communities.

Elizabeth Morabito, Senior Marketing & Content Strategist 

Related: Caring Hearts, Need Apply: How working with people with disabilities reaps rewards all around