Last week, President Kim Novak joined Executive Board member Jennifer Vecchio on the job to learn firsthand about what UFCW 1518 members working in home support do on a daily basis. Vecchio has been working as a Community Home Support Worker and caring for clients in Nelson for over 35 years.
“Shadowing Jennifer throughout her day was an amazing experience and opened my eyes to the truly inspiring work that our community health members do,” said President Novak. “It helped me better understand the scope and skill set they bring to each human interaction, no matter how small.”
President Novak said she was grateful for the experience, because it helped her see clearly the human side of home support. “I saw how a visit by community health worker is what many clients look forward to in their day, whether it was practicing exercises together, joking in conversation, feeling refreshed after a bath, or the comfort of seeing a familiar face.”
Home support is a key component of the public health care system and is essential to the health and well being of so many of the most vulnerable people in communities across British Columbia. More than 2,500 UFCW 1518 members are employed as community health workers, from Vancouver Island to Nelson. “Our community health members are hardworking, compassionate and caring and they provide a critical service, one that emphasizes the dignity and respect of clients and ensures they receive care in the comfort of their homes.”
President Novak said that despite a new collective agreement with millions of dollars in funding to move home support workers toward parity with their colleagues in facilities, such as hospitals and long term care homes, many challenges remain. “Whether it be the complexities of scheduling, employers moving to rotations, or the ongoing issue of retention, these challenges have real impacts on our members,” she explained. “But they are challenges we will face together. As a union, we will continue advocating on your behalf and work with you to come up with solutions.
President Novak said her job shadowing experience had a profound impact. “I am more committed than ever to continue to stand with our community health workers and support them as they continue to work so incredibly hard for their clients.”