Spotlight on Eldercare Dialogues

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The Eldercare Dialogues are an innovative project developed by JFREJ, with partnership and leadership from the Aging in New York Hevra at B'nai Jeshurun, Adhikaar, Damayan, Domestic Workers United, and the National Domestic Workers Alliance.

The project emerged following the passage of the Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, when the domestic worker movement and its allies asked a big question: What's it going to take to truly transform the domestic work sector, transforming our communities while we're at it?

We know that true implementation of the Bill, as well as quality jobs for domestic workers and quality care for seniors requires building solidarity and deep community between domestic workers and their employers. Together, we are exploring new strategies for building our shared power (as care workers and seniors), strengthening the career ladder, and ultimately transforming the way care happens in our society.

Our first year of Eldercare Dialogues has been transformative! To date, over 150 elderly caregivers, seniors, and their family members have participated in these powerful community Dialogues. Together, we’ve:

  • developed shared vision for caring and interdependent communities.
  • heard powerful stories from elder caregivers, seniors, family caregivers, and developed our analysis by hearing from experts and organizers in the formal homecare sector.
  • explored the relationships between care, gender, and migration.
  • done deep education about the care economy--deepening our shared analysis of care as a commodity versus care as a public good.
  • delved into the disability community’s legacy of struggle for autonomy and self-determination, examining what it means to be "allies" to one another as opposed to paternalistic "helpers."

Based on the values and lessons identified in the Eldercare Dialogues, we are now preparing to pilot an innovative training program to serve both care workers and seniors in the private pay market! This program will provide workforce development and career ladder opportunities for workers while also supporting seniors and their family members to understand their ethical responsibilities as domestic employers. Following the launch of the pilot in the first quarter of 2014, we hope to begin matching up these worker and consumer graduates.

The Eldercare Dialogues have been identified by the New York Care Council as well as the national movement as a ground-breaking and effective field strategy for the Caring Across Generations Campaign and post-Domestic Workers Bill of Rights organizing.

JFREJ looks forward to supporting partners across the city and across to country to scale and replicate this model for alliance. At the same time, we look forward to another year of Eldercare Dialogues in New York City: deepening our synagogue partnerships, developing visionary leadership among Jewish seniors and disabled people, improving working conditions for elder caregivers, and building caring communities that value all of our interdependence.

For more information about the dialogues or to get involved, contact Community Organizer Rachel McCullough at rachel [at] jfrej [dot] org (subject: Eldercare%20Dialogues)