The Last Word

Posted by on October 27th, 2014 at 3:51 pm | No Comments »

Dear Friends:

When we closed our doors this June, we maintained a virtual office for three months while some of us looked for a new home for our members and supporters. We are now closing those virtual doors as well. As of tomorrow—October 28, 2014—DCA will no longer exist as a legal entity.

That means you won’t be hearing from us any more on this blog or on our social media, but we hope you will join our Board Chair Tracy Dudzinski and other workers who were part of DCA on their new Facebook page, DCA Workers United.

We may have one last piece of good news for you later on. Our executive committee has identified a group that may be able to provide a home for our members, our allies, and some of our programs. So if you get an email in a few weeks that mentions Direct Care Alliance in the subject line, please be sure to read it.

In the meantime, we’ll all keep looking for ways to advocate for better respect, wages, benefits, training, and working conditions for direct care workers, and we know you will too.

The DCA board

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on October 21st, 2014 at 6:14 pm | No Comments »

The people that take care of me deserve a living wage,” says home care recipient Kyle Auxier.

How well a home care worker is treated has depended entirely on the employer. Now, that’s finally changing.

Award-winning home health aide Joe Quinn on how home care workers go above and beyond for their clients.

Nearly three-quarters of direct care workers are forced to rush through basic care for the elderly and disabled, survey finds.

Ai-jen Poo on why it is essential that we pay home care workers enough to support their familiesContinue reading »

Home Care Workers Rising

Posted by on October 14th, 2014 at 4:14 pm | No Comments »

forest of signs 2The following photos and stories are from the Voices Institute graduates, several of whom were also DCA board members, who represented Direct Care Alliance and their profession at the Home Care Workers Rising summit. The summit was hosted by Caring Across Generations in St. Louis on October 6 and 7.

It Rekindled the Fight in Me

I was fortunate to be invited to the Home Care Workers Rising summit by the Direct Care Alliance board of directors. The summit brought together members of the SEIU, AFSCME, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Jobs with Justice, Hand in Hand, Caring Across Generations, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice to spark and rekindle the Home Care Worker fight for a job that is respected, pays a living wage, includes benefits and paid time off. We were home care workers and consumers, all sharing and learning what each other were doing in the fight to improve home care jobs.  Continue reading »

Craig Retires from the Day Activity Center

Posted by on October 2nd, 2014 at 2:13 pm | No Comments »
David Moreau

David Moreau

Craig played ball for Camden,

starting varsity senior year.

He told me he got good when he learned to slow down

and could see the whole court.

 

I wish he could have transferred that skill

to the Day Activity Center where he worked

eighteen years with ferocious love,

but was always getting whistled

for reaching in or charging. Continue reading »

Combating Client-Inflicted Workplace Violence among Direct Care Workers

Posted by on September 25th, 2014 at 3:30 am | 4 Comments »
Shelly S. McDowell-Porter

Shelly S. McDowell-Porter

Greetings! I am the proud daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, and friend of many direct care paraprofessionals (DCPs), the term I am using for my PhD project on frontline workers such as home health attendants, home health aides, certified nursing assistants, and personal care assistants. I am also a licensed clinical social worker and a PhD student at the Howard University School of Social Work in Washington D.C. If you are a direct care worker, I need your help to complete a survey on client-Inflicted workplace violence for my doctoral thesis.

My doctoral research is a tribute to the women in my family, who did the hard work of caring for others in order to care for their loved ones. It focuses on client-inflicted workplace violence, the victimization of DCPs at the hands of their clients or their client’s family members. Workplace violence comes in many forms, including (but not limited to) physical assault, sexual assault, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse. Continue reading »

How My DCA Blog Post Won Me a Car

Posted by on September 16th, 2014 at 1:45 pm | No Comments »

Chevy Prizm keysOn a Treadmill Going Backward, my Direct Care Alliance blog post about how hard it is to get by on a home care worker’s wages, is developing a life of its own.

Right after it was published, Steve Farnham of the Aroostock Area Agency on Aging asked permission to give copies to legislators and legislative candidates “to support an effort to increase wages and promote benefits for direct care workers in Maine.” The Maine Peoples Alliance asked me to read the essay on their Town Hall telecommunication system last month—to about 10,000 people!  On Labor Day I gave a copy to Mike Michaud, who is running for governor of Maine.  And I will be reading the story at the Kennebec Valley Organization’s Candidate night on September 18.

Meanwhile, Jack Hayes, who read and commented on my blog post, was inspired to offer me the most amazing gift.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on September 15th, 2014 at 2:55 pm | No Comments »

Maine needs to increase reimbursement rates and give us direct care workers a raise, says Helen Hanson in a Bangor Daily News editorial.

How negative public attitudes toward direct care work can damage workers’ morale and self-image.

Not just anyone can do direct care work, says a striking worker: “It takes a very long time to understand how to work with very complex people with very complex needs.”

A strong op-ed on what’s wrong with Britain’s “zero-hour” home care contracts, which offer workers no protection and no guaranteed hours.

With a statewide average wage of $8.60 an hour, home care workers in Missouri are calling for higher wages.

An ethics instructor considers what fair pay for home care workers would look like—and why we need to make it happen.

This video for NADSP’s Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week (September 7-13) celebrates the work done by DSPs.

Professors Lisa Dodson and Nancy Folbre on why the Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn decision will hurt home care consumers.

Continue reading »

Surveying Workplace Hazards for Home Care Workers

Posted by on September 3rd, 2014 at 3:24 pm | No Comments »
Patricia Buckley

Patricia Buckley

Most Americans can go to work each day with confidence because their workplace is regulated for safety, but this is not the case for those who work in a private home. There are currently no provisions to address workplace safety for home care workers, and that makes it difficult to create a stable and predictable work environment. No wonder home health care and personal care always rank among the occupations with the highest rates of job-related injuries on Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

An unsafe workplace not only endangers the aides who work there but undermines their ability to support the client. For example, home care workers often face scenarios like this:  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on August 15th, 2014 at 9:35 pm | No Comments »

A new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor would raise the minimum wage for VA hospital CNAs and other federal contractors to $10.10 an hour.

A new guidance and updated fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Labor help states make sure home care workers are paid fairly under the minimum wage and overtime rule.

Another excellent editorial from the New York Times on why U.S. Department of Labor must resist pressure to delay implementing the minimum wage and overtime rule for home care workers.

Home care worker Maureen Lewis on why we must improve the lives of the next generation by improving wages for direct care workersContinue reading »

DCA Maine forms Partnership with Maine People’s Alliance

Posted by on July 31st, 2014 at 11:49 am | No Comments »

image for david moreau storyDCA Maine has a long history of empowering direct care workers to speak up and voice their concerns on issues regarding their work.  Members have testified before legislative committees, spoken with our elected representatives in Congress and taken part in work groups and coalitions to improve the conditions of direct care work.

Notable successes include two grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); one for helping direct care workers to obtain health insurance through their employers and another for training direct care workers on core competencies so they can easily transfer from one population to another.  We are also proud of being part of the campaign to remove the companionship exemption for home care workers from the Fair Labor Standards Act.

But a lot still needs to be done to create a world where direct care workers receive adequate pay, support and training to do the work we love. So when Direct Care Alliance let us know it had run out of out of funding, we looked for another group that could support our work.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on July 16th, 2014 at 3:49 pm | No Comments »

A new rule proposed by US DOL would raise the minimum wage for VA hospital CNAs and other federal contractors to $10.10 an hour.

A new guidance and updated fact sheet from U.S. Department of Labor help states make sure home care workers are paid fairly under the minimum wage and overtime rule.

Another excellent New York Times editorial on why U.S. Department of Labor must resist pressure to delay implementing the minimum wage and overtime rule for home care workers.

A family member, National Nurses United and a professor of labor and employment studies on the disaster that is the Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn ruling.

A small raise for Massachusetts home care aides is a step in the right direction, but there’s a long way to go yet. Continue reading »

Leading Long-Term Care Magazine Reports on DCA’s New Status

Posted by on June 25th, 2014 at 12:23 pm | 1 Comment »

mcknights_logo“Long-term care workers are, by nature, hearty souls. They have to be. That’s probably why Monday’s notice set off bells in numerous offices here. It’s over. Operations are ceasing.”

So begins a blog post by James M. Berklan, editor of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News, about DCA’s change in status and search for a partner.  Read his story.

Farewell and Thank You

Posted by on June 23rd, 2014 at 10:09 am | 21 Comments »

Dear Friend of DCA,

group shot panoramic for web

With your support, Direct Care Alliance has been the national advocacy voice of direct care workers for almost ten years.  We can all be proud of what we have accomplished together.

Inspired by the vision of former Executive Director Leonila Vega, we built a nationwide advocacy network of direct care workers through the Voices Institute and other means. These worker leaders are eloquent about the value of their work and have a passion for improving our system of long-term services and supports.

We influenced legislation and regulation, taking important steps at the state and federal level to improve the health and economic security of direct care workers, invest in the workforce and enhance training and advancement opportunities. A key recent victory was the final home care rule extending basic labor protections–including federal minimum wage and overtime pay–to home care workers nationwide.

We developed a national credentialing program that is an important step toward building recognition of personal care work. We assisted many direct care workers in finding health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. We also provided technical and financial assistance to direct care worker state associations.

Unfortunately, the world has changed, and our income has decreased every year. The board has grappled with this over the years, trying to trim costs while maintaining services and supports for workers, but we don’t have enough funding to continue operating. We regretfully inform you that DCA staff operations will cease and our offices in Washington, DC and New York will close by June 30.  Continue reading »

FAQs About DCA’s New Status

Posted by on June 23rd, 2014 at 10:09 am | No Comments »

I hear DCA is closing down. Is that true?

Our offices closed and our staff stopped working on June 30, 2014. The board is operating a “virtual office” to respond to members through October 28. Our communications consultant is also staying on part-time to maintain our website, blog and social media.

What happened?

Finding grant funding has became more and more challenging in recent years, and our income has been steadily decreasing. The board has been trimming costs where it could, but we arrived at a point at which things were no longer sustainable.

What will DCA do between now and October 20?

The board is exploring possible partnerships with other organizations in hopes of finding a new home for our members and allies. If you know of a group that might be interested in partnering with us, please let us know.  Continue reading »

Celebrate National Nursing Assistants Week by Giving R-E-S-P-E-C-T Year-Round

Posted by on June 17th, 2014 at 11:42 am | No Comments »

Read this editorial on Huffington Post

Carla Washington

Carla Washington

If you talk to direct care workers about what they do for a living, you will discover within the first five minutes of your conversation that they are proud of the care they provide. Talk to them a little longer and you will probably also hear how conflicted they are about their work, largely because of how underappreciated and disrespected it is by the rest of us.

Growing up I can vividly recall my mother, a 30-year career CNA (now retired), exemplifying that dichotomy when she spoke to me and my brothers about her work. While she certainly enjoyed the care side of direct care work, I could hear the disappointment in her voice when she talked about how the work she and fellow direct care workers provided was rarely appreciated or talked about with respect by others within the nursing home and VA hospital she worked at.  Continue reading »

What Makes a Good Caregiver: The Most Important Trait of All

Posted by on June 16th, 2014 at 10:41 am | 8 Comments »
Me and Mom after her stroke

Me and Mom after her stroke

I’ve been covering the world of long-term care for almost 20 years now, focusing for more than half that time on direct care workers, so I’ve thought a lot about the many traits—including competence, compassion, reliability, attentiveness and patience—that make good direct care workers so good at their work. But not until my own mom became a “total care” nursing home resident did I learn to appreciate what I now think is the most important trait of all.

A massive stroke at the end of 2012 left Mom with severe expressive aphasia. She can usually understand what is said to her and knows what she wants to say in response, but she can rarely get out the words she needs to make herself understood. She’s come a long way, after months of speech therapy, but for every time she can say the right word or short phrase there are many more when she can only get out a string of unconnected words.

Watching people react to Mom has taught me a lot about how our words define us. Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on June 16th, 2014 at 10:16 am | No Comments »

Punitive managers and overreliance on rigid rules foster bad patterns of interaction in nursing homes, harming resident care and staff satisfaction—but there are methods managers can use to encourage positive interactions between staff.

Delay the minimum wage and overtime rule for home care workers even longer? Home care workers deserve better, and so do consumers.

Watch Respect: The Joy of Aides, a wonderful 20-minute documentary by Eva Sweeney, a woman with CP, about how to hire and manage aides and what it’s like when a direct care worker and a client work well together.

Good news for home care worker wages: a 5% pay raise in Minnesota, home care workers fighting for fair wages all across America, and rallies in Cleveland and Boston, where home care workers are calling for a $15 minimum wage for their profession.  Continue reading »

On a Treadmill Going Backward: Surviving on a Home Care Worker’s Wages

Posted by on May 29th, 2014 at 10:34 pm | 5 Comments »

The following is an edited excerpt from a journal I kept in October 2004 about life as a home care worker in Augusta, Maine.

Beat_up_carTwo days ago, I pulled the ligament under my kneecap at a client’s home, catching my foot on a plastic rug. Then my car started to make “dentist drill” noises and my mechanics told me I needed to replace the pulleys on the alternator. I squeezed another 12 miles onto the odometer before I felt a change in the power steering, letting me know the alternator wasn’t doing its job. Welcome to the home care worker’s biggest nightmare: Lack of wheels!

I reflected on my need for transportation as I took a taxi to work yesterday. Basically, my car is used for business transportation. “Drive to work, work to drive,” as a friend used to say.   To save money, I do all my errands on my way home from an elder’s house. Of the thousands of miles on my old car, I have probably logged about a thousand traveling for pleasure, usually to see family and friends. The rest were all spent driving to and from my clients’ homes.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on May 29th, 2014 at 10:30 pm | No Comments »

The Massachusetts Senate is deciding whether to give home care workers a much-needed raise.

Watch this excellent program from NJTV’s Due Process about why home care workers and other low-wage workers need paid time off.

Contract workers are a fast-increasing percentage of the workforce, in direct care and elsewhere—and that’s a worrisome trend.

Let’s not let technology run amok: A reminder that robots can never take the place of human beings in the very personal business of direct care work.

The Library of Congress is funding research on home health care workers by a University of Oregon team.

A heroic direct care worker saved 20 residents after fire broke out in an adult foster care home in Detroit.

The mammoth national Home Instead Senior Care franchise is bringing staff training online.

A home care worker in England is threatening to sue for being issued a parking ticket while visiting a client.