Name: Penny Whitney
Title: Co-Chair Colorado Direct Care Workforce Collaborative (DCWC)
Projects: Many in the Strengthen the Workforce & Enhance Rural Sustainability category
Information about the DCWC: The DCWC will serve as the key stakeholder group which advises, guides, and supports the direct care workforce ARPA initiatives. For instance, the DCWC's Training and Career Advancement Action Group will help advise on the development and launch of the new standardized training being developed for homemakers and personal care workers.
Penny Whitney serves as the 2021-2022 Co-Chair for the DCWC. Penny’s path to the DCWC has been both professional and personal. During the last ten years, the focus of her professional consulting practice has been strategic facilitation and interprofessional team leadership development in health care and most specifically long-term skilled health care. Although her consulting focuses on leadership teams, she knows and values the importance of the direct care workforce for quality care outcomes. However, it was not until she had two family members diagnosed with terminal conditions ultimately requiring the support of direct caregivers that she really understood the importance of the direct care workforce and the value they provide not only to clients but to families.
Can you tell us a little bit about the Direct Care Workforce Collaborative?
The DCWC is a stakeholder-led Colorado initiative with a mission to stabilize the direct care workforce by implementing strategies to support three identified priority areas (Compensation/Benefits; Training/Career Advancement; and Value/Awareness) and to raise awareness of the essential contributions of this workforce to health care.
What do you hope the DCWC will be able to accomplish?
The Vision for the DCWC is to be recognized as the central hub for action, expertise, and advocacy on behalf of the direct care workforce. This vision is beginning to become a reality this year as each of our three action groups begins implementation of the strategic action steps developed in 2021 and as the DCWC develops important partnerships across the state.
If you could say one thing to the general public about direct care workers, what would that be?
The DCWC is well-positioned with a full agenda of goals for 2022; however, the success of all the goals is linked to increased awareness and understanding of the important health care role of the direct care workforce. Colorado is identified as the second fastest aging state in the country. Research confirms that 70% of those over 65 will need the support of a direct care professional sometime in their life. The work the DCWC does today to stabilize the direct care workforce and raise awareness of their essential value will provide benefits well beyond 2022.
I am honored to work with and learn from the dedicated individuals participating in the DCWC! We would love to have you join us!
Want to be featured for a future Stakeholder Spotlight to share your story about how ARPA has impacted your life? Send an email to us and let us know!