Archive for April, 2009

Voices Institute National Leadership Program Extends Deadline

Posted by on April 30th, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Comments Off on Voices Institute National Leadership Program Extends Deadline
Bridget (L) and Renee Tillman at the 2008 Voices Institute

Bridget (L) and Renee Tillman at the 2008 Voices Institute

A few of the employers and associations who expressed interest in this year’s Voices Institute National Leadership Program have asked for more time to nominate workers.

It is important to us to hear from every direct care worker who wants to grow as a leader by participating, so we extended our application deadline — and we want to offer the same opportunity to anyone else who wants to apply or nominate somebody.

The new application deadline is May 22. We’ll be in touch with every applicant early next month to let them know if they were accepted.

Bridget Siljander
Direct Care Worker Specialist
Direct Care Alliance

DCA Seeks Operations Manager

Posted by on April 24th, 2009 at 5:53 pm | 1 Comment »

dcalogo-4csmallJob description and information on how to apply (PDF)

The Direct Care Alliance is looking for an Operations Manager to replace Akhil Banthia, who is returning home to India at the end of May.

We have been very blessed to have Akhil with us. His support and assistance has been crucial to the DCA’s growth as an independent advocacy organization. We have enjoyed working with him and will miss his sense of humor, keen intelligence, and creativity. But I’m happy for him, as he moves on to pursue bigger dreams in his homeland.

Feel free to email me (lvega@directcarealliance.og) or Akhil ( if you have questions about the position. We hope to find our ideal candidate by the middle of next month.

Leonila Vega
Executive Director
Direct Care Alliance

Direct Care Workers to Congress: We Can’t Reform Health Care until We Reform Direct Care Jobs

Posted by on April 24th, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers to Congress: We Can’t Reform Health Care until We Reform Direct Care Jobs

capitol-hillNext week, direct care worker, consumer, and employer constituents of the Direct Care Alliance will join DCA board members on Capitol Hill to visit Members of Congress. They will advocate for three DCA health care reform principles and an immediate fix to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which excludes home care aides from minimum wage and overtime protection.

“Today, direct care workers begin to end decades of invisibility,” says DCA Executive Director Leonila Vega. “Workers and their allies from Texas to Pennsylvania are visiting their elected representatives to deliver the DCA message: We cannot reform health care until we reform direct care jobs.”

Related documents:
Press release (PDF)

DCA health care reform principles (PDF)

DCA letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, (PDF) asking her to overturn the FLSA exemption

Elise Nakhnikian
Communications Director
Direct Care Alliance

Blog Brings Aging Into the Health Care Discusssion

Posted by on April 15th, 2009 at 11:10 am | Comments Off on Blog Brings Aging Into the Health Care Discusssion

It’s great that Washington is finally focused on health care reform, but have you noticed that people who talk about health care rarely include long-term and chronic care services or the special needs of our fast-growing population of elders?

Health AGEnda, a new blog from the John A. Hartford Foundation, addresses that gap, exploring the intersection between aging and health, health care, and health policy.

If you want to help keep that conversation going, visit and comment on the blog.

Elise Nakhnikian
Communications Director
Direct Care Alliance

Working at the Intersection between Vulnerability and Power

Posted by on April 15th, 2009 at 10:30 am | 4 Comments »

leonila-low-resPublic service and advocacy has been a calling for me ever since I can remember. Perhaps it’s a byproduct of having a soldier father and a mother who was a devoted volunteer, but I grew up believing that I was responsible for easing the burdens of others.

I found my calling in walking the narrow path between the powerful and the vulnerable. Yet all this time, I have rarely thought about my own vulnerability. A conference I attended last month changed that, making me think about how my own experiences connect me to direct care workers. Continue reading »

PA Providers Share Best Practices in CNA Support Systems

Posted by on April 14th, 2009 at 4:10 pm | 1 Comment »
Brenda Nachtway

Brenda Nachtway

I heard about some exciting “best practices” last month at a conference hosted by the Pennsylvania Center for Health Careers. The title was Redefining Excellence: Pennsylvania’s Best Healthcare Practices, and it fit. The presenters at the workshops I went to about direct care work really care about their workers and know how to make their jobs better.

At one called “We CARE-CNAs’ Impact on Management of Care Delivery,” two vice presidents from Redstone Highlands talked about the education, skills building, and opportunities for career advancement they provide to their CNAs. Redstone Highlands is a nonprofit retirement community with three campuses. They have a career advancement lattice – not a career ladder – that lets CNAs get an increase in pay and a new job title for acquiring special skills without having to move “up” to a position as a licensed nurse.

Nursing assistants advance by becoming peer mentors, taking on extra responsibilities like preparing all the next day’s paperwork, scheduling, and teaming up experienced aides with new hires. The presenters stressed the fact that this is not just a feel-good program: the work their senior CNAs do is vital to the operation of the organization. Since the program started, they said, their turnover has been very low. Continue reading »

Decision Time for the National Direct Care Partnership

Posted by on April 14th, 2009 at 11:23 am | 2 Comments »
Roy Gedat

Roy Gedat

Join us!

The DCA’s National Direct Care Partnership is about to agree on the first set of federal bills and policy solutions that we will endorse.

The Partnership is a coalition of organizations and individuals who recognize the urgent need to improve long-term care by improving direct care jobs. Since we started late last year we’ve gained close to 50 members, including 25 national, state and regional organizations. Our members (PDF) include worker associations, long term care coalitions, employers, consumer, family groups, and others.

In recent conference calls, we’ve heard excellent presentations on the following policies and proposed bills, which we will soon consider supporting: Continue reading »

An Inside Look at the Voices Institute National Training

Posted by on April 14th, 2009 at 9:45 am | 1 Comment »
We're working on personal empowerment. That's me standing in the background.

We're working on personal empowerment. That's me standing in the background.

Hello, fellow direct care workers.

Helping to plan the DCA’s Voices Institute National Leadership Training this year is making me think about last year’s training. I want to tell you what that was like, in case you’re thinking of joining us this year.

Last year’s training was at the Dekoven Center in Racine, Wisconsin – the same place where it will be this year. The Dekoven Center is on a 20-acre, wooded campus on the shore of Lake Michigan between Milwaukee and Chicago. It’s a beautiful place, but there wasn’t much time to enjoy the scenery. A few of us took walks every morning at 6, and we had a few classes outside, but that was about it.

They said it would be a retreat. When I think of a retreat, I think of relaxation and kicking back. Boy, was I wrong about this one! We started classes every day at 9 and finished at 5 or later. Some nights, we didn’t get done till 7. It was really worthwhile – it’s a good training – but it was intense. You’re there to learn.

Continue reading »

Clinco Urges Displaced Workers to Consider Direct Care

Posted by on April 10th, 2009 at 3:53 pm | 2 Comments »

judy-clinco1“Are you a displaced worker? A position in direct care could be the first step into a career that is stable, rewarding, humane, meets a growing need and can never be shipped overseas,” writes DCA board member Judith Clinco in the April 9 issue of the Arizona Daily Star.

In her guest editorial, Clinco urges laid-off workers to consider direct care as a career – assuming they’re cut out for it. “Direct care is not a good fit for every worker, by any means,” she writes. “Consider it a calling-the best direct-care workers have an affinity for people who are elderly or have a disability. They are compassionate. They feel they are meant to serve.”

Worker-Led Push for Health Care Coverage Makes “Amazing” Progress in Maine

Posted by on April 2nd, 2009 at 8:04 pm | 2 Comments »
Some of the key players (Hanson is third from right)

Some of the key players (Hanson is third from right)

“I’ve only been doing this for a year, but a lot of people who have been doing it for a long time are telling me that this has never happened before,” says home care worker Helen Hanson. “They’re saying: “Wow! This is the closest we’ve ever gotten!”

Hanson is talking about a meeting she arranged on Tuesday to talk about LD1059, a bill that would establish a pilot project to provide affordable health care coverage to some of Maine’s direct care workers.

The meeting

In the room on Tuesday were Hanson and some of her fellow direct care worker advocates along with the most powerful group ever to gather in one state to talk about how to improve health care coverage for direct care workers. Continue reading »