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‘Holiday gift’ to caregivers from state health department

New York State Department of Health


The New York state health department unveiled what it called a “holiday gift for caregivers” Wednesday in New York City. It’s a book that the department says will make life easier for people who take care of others who can’t support themselves, although state health commissioner Howard Zucker said the gift is more than just a book.

“It’s got stickies, pens and a pad, and then we have the caregiver book itself,” Zucker said. He described the book as full of information caregivers need.

“There’s information about choosing care teams, there’s information about legal and financial issues, there’s information about communicating with health care professionals,” said Zucker.

Mary Rose McBride, who handles communications for Lifespan, a local agency that provides resources and support to seniors in the Rochester area, said she was grateful, but she had some concerns.

McBride said she was glad that the state was recognizing a need for more support for caregivers, but she also said most of the questions people ask Lifespan’s staff come in moments of crisis -- like on the way to the hospital -- and not in moments of calm, when people can peruse a book.

McBride said the biggest problem she sees in her field is a shortage of professional caregivers. The older adult population is increasing, she said, and the number of people wanting to work as caregivers is decreasing.

The state’s holiday gift is important, McBride said, but she added that she also hopes for more long-term help to encourage people to join the caregiving profession, and to support people who find themselves doing the work for their families without getting paid.

Brett was the health reporter and a producer at WXXI News. He has a master’s degree from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism.
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