Caring: A RADIO IQ Series

Credit Kate Thompson

They take care of the physically disabled, mentally disabled and our elderly parents. They bathe, feed, comfort and care. All while saving state taxpayers half a billion dollars annually. In Virginia, they’re overwhelmingly poor women of color.

In a month-long series, RADIO IQ explores who works as home health aides; what drives them to do difficult work for low pay; and the missed opportunities to make this workforce a sustainable and cost-saving part of our health-care system.

Kate Thompson



At an apartment building in the Highland Park neighborhood of Richmond, Dr. Amy Paul is making a housecall. But the person who greets her at the front door isn’t the patient. It’s home health aide Vickie Grady.

Kate Thompson

Maly Moore has been taking care of her aging mother since 2010, and it’s been a struggle financially. She couldn’t hold down a job.

So she thought: what if she could get paid to take care of her mother? In Virginia that’s possible. Moore took a personal care aide class and got some skills.

Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College


In a strip mall north of Richmond, it’s graduation day for a class of home care aides. The group stands up together to recite a creed.

“I will strive to maintain integrity and be strengthened by compassion, courage, and faith at all times,” they chant.

Kate Thompson


Thanks to a rotating crew of homecare companions, Barbara Williams’ husband was able to live at home at the end of his life

“I met many many good people during that time, that were really good caregivers and very caring,” recalls Williams.


They’re the people who take care of the physically disabled, mentally disabled, our elderly parents. They bathe, feed, comfort and care. They’re home healthcare workers. And as our population ages they’ll be more in demand than ever before.