Archive for October, 2008

Direct-care Workers Need Health Insurance

Posted by on October 31st, 2008 at 2:24 pm | Comments Off on Direct-care Workers Need Health Insurance

Voices Institute graduate Helen Hanson had the following published in the Kennebec Journal this week.

I have been following the recent debate surrounding Dirigo. I’m a direct-care worker and help keep elderly folks living in their homes. I don’t make tons of money and have no health insurance through my job.

My husband and I buy our own catastrophic coverage so we won’t lose our house if one of us gets sick. It doesn’t cover much, but I’m healthy. However, I’ve lived with the threat of cancer my whole life. If I were to learn that I might have cancer, I will have to leave my job in search of one with health insurance.

Right now, our state has a shortage of direct-care workers………

Read Helen’s story

Voices Institute Alumni Keep the Fire Lit

Posted by on October 21st, 2008 at 12:08 pm | Comments Off on Voices Institute Alumni Keep the Fire Lit

voices-institute-group-shot1There is no question that the 22 direct care workers who participated in the very successful Voices Institute leadership training retreat in the spring of 2008 became a tight-knit core group of direct care worker advocates. We still discuss the impact that this experience has had on our lives and how we will never forget the incredible growth that took place. As a group, we are building a grassroots movement bit-by-bit with passion and determination.

On October 20, eight of our alumni gathered for our first follow-up conference call. We learned about some exciting things that our group has been working on:

Ray Erickson had just given a speech to close to a 100 people at the Iowa CareGivers Association Annual Meeting.

His wife, Vicki Erickson, had recently sat in on a forum with local legislators for a couple of hours.

Jackie Merkle spoke about her efforts to develop organizational relationships with the Long-Term Care Alliance. One person in her group is working on legislative activities, such as a position paper to try to move forward with legislation. She also shared some frustrations she’s had around trying to generate interest among direct care workers by going through providers, who sometimes are not receptive to her message.

Lorenzo Raffa talked about Maine PASA’s conference, which attracted 1,500 attendees. John Booker, the Chair of the Direct Care Alliance, was the keynote speaker. Vicki Erickson of the ICA spoke about her Voices Institute experience. Roy Gedat, the National Advocacy Director for the Direct Care Alliance, was also present.

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Voices Institute Graduate Makes a Splash in Iowa

Posted by on October 21st, 2008 at 6:55 am | Comments Off on Voices Institute Graduate Makes a Splash in Iowa

ray_ericksonI was asked to speak at the Iowa CareGivers Association’s annual meeting in Des Moines this week. My topic was Recognition: A National Voice. I thought you might like to hear what I said.

Good Evening,

My name is Ray Erickson. I am a Certified Medication Aide in an 88-bed SNF. I have worked the last 22 ½ years in the health care industry. I got my start just after my 17th birthday, when I enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves in Sioux City. I spent two years serving my country in the reserves as a navy corpsman. I have spent the last twenty years working in nursing facilities. Just this last week, I celebrated my fifteenth year at my current facility.

I am also an EMT-B here in the state of Iowa. I also have a CNA and Restorative Aide certification.

I joined ICA in the fall of 2002 with my wife, Vicki Erickson, who is a member of the Direct Care Worker Leadership Council. During the last year, I have taken the ICA Leadership program in Boone. 

In May of this year, I had the honor to represent Iowa at the National Level by attending DCA’s Voices Institute leadership training in Racine, Wisconsin, with Vicki. We went through an intensive training for five days. During those five days, we were taught many ways on preparing speeches, public speaking, and working with multiple stakeholders. It was interesting seeing 25 people from 12 different states coming together for one cause, advocating for the direct care worker, consumer, and employer. We all have to work together as a team to make direct care a more fulfilling profession.

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DCA Creates National Direct Care Partnership

Posted by on October 15th, 2008 at 6:45 pm | Comments Off on DCA Creates National Direct Care Partnership

The Direct Care Alliance recently formed the National Direct Care Partnership, a national coalition that brings together direct care workers, consumers, and employers. The partnership will provide a strong voice for change in the direct care workforce. The coalition will vote to endorse issues. Individual participants can either choose to support or opt out of having their name on the letters, testimony, and other statements that are generated. 

A primary goal of the Partnership is to lobby for legislation that will improve direct care workforce conditions and compensation. Strong credibility was given to these issues by a report that was recently released by the Institute of Medicine. Retooling for an Aging America: Building the Health Care Workforce provides an advocacy opportunity for direct care workers and their allies. It acknowledges that direct care workers provide a majority of hands-on care to those who are aging. It addresses key issues in the direct care workforce, such as workforce shortages, wages, recruitment, retention, and training, and recommends financial incentives, training opportunities, increased training requirements, licensure and certification.

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