Bring The Vote Home-New York is part of nationwide effort to help patients vote if they have a chronic illness or disability that makes it difficult to get to the polls on Election Day
The Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) has embarked on a new home care voter outreach campaign called Bring The Vote Home-NY, delivering thousands of voter materials to home care agencies so these agencies can assist their patients with voting from home.
HCA has so far delivered over 10,000 packets to participating home care agencies throughout New York State, with many other home care agencies preparing their own materials to deliver to patients.
Home care patients include the chronically ill, frail-elderly, and persons with disabilities. Many of these individuals are homebound, or their illness makes it difficult to travel to the polls on Election Day.
Bring The Vote Home-NY is arming home care providers with instructions, voter registration forms and absentee ballot applications. Home care provider staff are, in turn, delivering these materials to patients during their regular home visits and helping to facilitate the patients’ voting rights from home.
“More than 400,000 people receive home care in New York State and many of these individuals are homebound or suffer from a life-limiting illness,” says Home Care Association of New York State (HCA) President Joanne Cunningham. “This is a constituency with a voice that needs to be heard when it comes to health care and other issues, but it is also a constituency which traditionally has had difficulty getting to the polls on election day.”
“Our organization is joining state associations nationwide to enlist home care providers so they can help their patients access the ballot,” Cunningham added. “The right to vote is fundamental, and while polling places do their best to accommodate voters who have disabilities or assistance needs, the simple act of getting out to the polls remains a barrier for many patients, especially those receiving home care.”
Medicare eligibility rules state that home care patients must be homebound to receive services, which means they are unable to leave home except only in certain limited circumstances, and with assistance. Thousands of other long-term home care patients receive Medicaid or other coverage for chronic conditions. Home care nurses, therapists, social workers and others employed by home care providers have daily contact with this population, providing medical care, assuring the safety of the patient’s living environment, aiding with nutritional services, administering medication and assisting with activities of daily living like bathing and other forms of self-care. They also play an important education role in linking patients to services and assisting family caregivers on tasks like transferring, mobility and monitoring.
“With this campaign, we are simply asking home care staff to add a new task to the wide range of services and assistance they are already providing their patients: by asking patients if they are registered to vote, providing them with the forms to do so, and offering them the option to apply for an absentee ballot if it is difficult for them to leave home to vote,” Cunningham added. “We simply see this campaign as a natural extension of the connection that home care workers have with their patients and patients truly appreciate this extra help to enable them to vote.”
Bring The Vote Home is a national campaign, with state-level home care associations – like HCA –organizing providers in their respective states to educate staff and arm them with materials for assisting patients. HCA is handling the New York State component of the campaign by supplying ballots, registration forms and guides for starting the conversation with patients about voting options.
HCA’s website for the campaign includes materials that families or other caregivers can use to engage a loved one who may benefit from the option of voting from home. For more information, please visit www.bringthevotehomeny.org.