Caregivers say that the First Chinese Presbyterian Church (FCPC) Home Attendant Corporation has stopped paying for health care for over 750 home care workers, which could result in their current benefits being cut off. Workers say that the agency’s actions could negatively affect many of their patients, elderly and people with disabilities, because workers might be forced to seek other jobs in order to have money for medical treatments.

“As the population ages, more and more seniors will demand access to quality home care,” said George Gresham, president of 1199SEIU, the caregivers’ union. “But the actions of the First Chinese Presbyterian Church Home Attendant Corporation are the wrong direction for the industry–they are dragging down standards and violating the church’s mission statement to ‘service the community’ by undermining quality care for workers and clients.”

The types of duties that home care workers undertake help vulnerable clients like the elderly or the disabled live safely and relatively independently. Workers tend to be responsible for tasks like bathing, dressing, feeding and clothing their clients and also picking up medications, cooking and cleaning.

FCPC Home Attendant Corporation claims that its facing financial challenges related to the transition to managed care, but workers said that the majority of other home care agencies have maintained caregivers’ benefits without interruption. Caregivers vowed to increase efforts to stand up for quality health care, which includes more rallies, an increase in visibility for their platform and soliciting help from elected officials and community leaders.

In New York City, the number of people age 65 and older is projected to rise from 938,000 to 1.35 million by the year 2030. Workers said that home care employees with good jobs and benefits are the key to ensuring top-notch care for clients. Workers at the FCPC Home Attendant Corporation make just $10 an hour.

One unidentified worker spoke about her experience with a client during Hurricane Sandy.

“During Hurricane Sandy, I stayed with my elderly client for three days straight, and with help from his children, lifted him in his wheelchair stair by stair, up and down his nine-story building so I could get him to his clinic treatments,” said the worker, who’s been with the FCPC Home Attendant Corporation for seven years. “Then I would wheel him half an hour each way to the clinic, because none of the public transportation was working. During my years as a home care worker, I injured my back, and now I must have access to medical treatment. Our elderly clients have worked hard all their lives, so I see it as my responsibility to provide them with a safe, dignified and peaceful life.”