Archive for October, 2009

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on October 27th, 2009 at 1:58 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News
Daniel Escojido

Daniel Escojido

DSP Chronicles Profiles Daniel Escojido

Daniel Escojido, a 26-year-old direct support professional who is the house manager for a group home is Ponca City, Oklahoma, is profiled in the October issue of The DSP Chronicles. “Is he mature beyond his 26 years? For sure!” says his supervisor in Tom King’s article. “Some people in this field have got it, and some don’t have it. Daniel’s got it.”
He was inspired to join the field by his mother, Maria, who provided in-home supports for the elderly. “I saw and watched and heard how she talked with them, the difference she made in their lives and how she loved them and they loved her and I’ve never forgotten that,” he told the publication.

 

Boston Globe Honors Evelyn Coke, Calls for “Decent Pay” for Home Care Workers

An editorial in Sunday’s Boston Globe pays tribute to Evelyn Coke and warns that “many thousands of Evelyn Cokes” will soon be added to the workforce — and they must be paid “a decent wage.” Continue reading »

What Direct Care Work Has Taught Me: Death Is a Part of Life

Posted by on October 27th, 2009 at 10:50 am | 7 Comments »
Tracy Dudzinski

Tracy Dudzinski

My mother-in-law’s death this summer was a blow to my whole family. Nothing can really prepare you for the loss of somebody you love. But helping her through her last months made me realize how much my work as a CNA has taught me about death.

I never thought much about death before I became a direct care worker. When I was forced to face it, in those days, I turned away as fast as possible. If someone close to me had died, I would avoid going up to the casket at the funeral home. Sure, I cried and mourned the death, but I distanced myself from it.

I also distanced myself from people who were close to death. When I became a direct care worker, 13 years ago, I would trade residents with other workers to avoid anyone who seemed close to the end. Sometimes I would even take on two residents in exchange for one who was dying.

I’m not sure when things started to change. Maybe it was the first time I helped wash a dead person. The nurse asked me to get her ready to be picked up by the funeral home, so I went into the room, scared and unsure where to start. I got so worried I started to cry. (CNA training does not prepare you to deal with the dead.) Continue reading »

What I Learned in a Nursing Home: a CNA’s Work is Never Done

Posted by on October 27th, 2009 at 12:29 am | 7 Comments »
Victoria Johnson during her stay in the nursing home

Victoria Johnson during her stay in the nursing home

It was the last week of this May and just starting to warm up when I checked myself into the Highlands Nursing Home in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. I am a 29-year-old medical student at the University Of New England College Of Osteopathic Medicine, and I was taking part in the Learning by Living Project, where medical students are admitted to nursing homes as residents for two weeks to gain insight into how it feels to be an elder in a nursing home.

My day-to-day care and well-being rested solely in the hands of my certified nursing assistants (CNAs). They would wake me in the morning, clean me, dress me, and make sure I ate. I would turn to them if I needed to use the bathroom, wasn’t feeling well, or wanted to go back to my room.

Right off the bat it was easy to see that these CNAs were not caring for the elderly for fame and glory, but because they wanted to help. They wanted their work to make a difference, and that’s what drove them to do their jobs well.

During my stay I saw many families thanking the staff, but it saddened me to know that they hadn’t had the opportunity to meet all of the amazing people taking care of their family members. Continue reading »

My Voices Institute Experience in a Word: AWESOME

Posted by on October 26th, 2009 at 11:32 pm | 2 Comments »
Linda Longsine

Linda Longsine

A is for the admiration I received
W is for the wonderful people
E is for everything I appreciate about the people of the DCA
S is for that special someone who gave confidence that I could do it
O is for the one thing that made a big difference in my life
M is for the many new friendships I made
E is for the experience that will make me a whole lot better person

Linda Longsine
Voices Institute NLP Class of 2009

DCA Video Diary: Renee Tillman

Posted by on October 15th, 2009 at 9:31 am | 3 Comments »

Before heading to DC with the DCA this spring, CNA Renee Tillman, the founder and president of the Texas Association of Nurse Assistants, asked her colleagues what they wanted her to tell legislators about direct care work. Here’s what they said.

Voices Institute NLP Graduates New Crop of Direct Care Worker Leaders

Posted by on October 15th, 2009 at 9:05 am | 3 Comments »
DCA board chair Vera Salter teaching members of the 2009 class

DCA board chair Vera Salter teaching members of the 2009 class

“Let the root thrive” was the birthing motto of the Voices Institute inaugural class, inspired by the lakeside location of the DeKoven Center in Wisconsin, where the first graduates launched DCA’s signature National Leadership Program (NLP) to turbo-charge direct care worker leadership and activism.

When I wrote, after the first class graduated, that the inaugural program was one “historic and successful step forward for the movement to empower direct care workers and to fix our broken long-term care system,” I was dreaming of the possibilities. From September 27 through October 3 of this year, direct care workers once again proved their capacity to make the seemingly impossible happen, and to claim the respect they deserve as professionals. The roots are thriving at the state and national level, and the new class of graduates have a place from where to build national policy success. Continue reading »

My Voices Institute Experience in a Word: BELIEF

Posted by on October 15th, 2009 at 8:42 am | 1 Comment »
Connie Kreider with fellow graduate Tony Wells at the 2009 VI NLP

Connie Kreider with fellow graduate Tony Wells at the 2009 VI NLP

B– breathing and inhaling the amazing week
E– entering and walking down a new path of leadership
L–learning and leaving footprints for others to follow
I–internal peace and tranquility
E–experiencing renewed strength and feeling blessed by walking on hallowed ground
F–friends for a lifetime, feelings of one unbreakable strength and renewed passion

Connie Kreider
Voices Institute NLP Class of 2009

My Voices Institute Experience in a Word: ENLIGHTENING

Posted by on October 15th, 2009 at 8:39 am | 1 Comment »
Pat Downing

Pat Downing

E is for encouraging us to change
N is for new core beliefs developed
L is for the love we have for being DCWs
I is for I believe in myself
G is for all the good changes we can make
H is for our hearts of gold
T is for teambuilding skills we learned
E is for effective advocating
N is for all negative beliefs left behind
I is for inspiring us to change
N is for new friendships made
G is for our growing edge as leaders 

Pat Downing
Voices Institute NLP Class of 2009

My Voices Institute Experience in a Word: TEAMWORK

Posted by on October 15th, 2009 at 8:36 am | 3 Comments »
D. Alex Chuang

D. Alex Chuang

T — It’s about tolerance and inclusion
E — It’s about effectiveness with less efficiency
A — It’s about Acts of Congress and the legislature
M — It’s about message crafting and staying on point
W — It’s about wages and top-line revenue
O — It’s about opening minds and wallets
R — It’s about respect with results
K — It’s about kinships and the human kindred spirit

D. Alex Chuang
Voices Institute NLP Class of 2009

My Voices Institute Experience in a Word: AWESOME

Posted by on October 13th, 2009 at 3:18 pm | 1 Comment »
Brenda (L) with Jackie Merkel at the 2008 Voices Institute National Leadership Program

Brenda (L) with Jackie Merkel at the 2008 Voices Institute National Leadership Program

A is for the award-winning experience
W is for a wonderful, worthy cause
E is for exposure to new ideas
S is for soothing smiles and soul
O is for the overwhelming openness of my newfound friends
M is for meaningful memories
E is for everlasting

 

Brenda Nachtway
DCA Direct Care Worker Specialist and graduate of the 2008 class of the Voices Institute National Leadership Program

My Voices Institute Experience in a Word: INCREDIBLE

Posted by on October 13th, 2009 at 1:49 pm | Comments Off on My Voices Institute Experience in a Word: INCREDIBLE
Tracy Dudzinski

Tracy Dudzinski

I is for the inspiration I received from the other workers
N is for the newfound confidence that I have in myself
C is for the catalyst of change I have become
R is for the roar I have developed
E is for the extra friends I’ve made
D is for the defining moments that have changed me as a person
I is for the insight I have about myself
B is for the belief I now have in myself
L is for the lion I’ve become 
E is for the endless memories I took home with me

 

Tracy Dudzinski
DCA Board member and graduate of the 2008 class of the Voices Institute National Leadership Program

Poems by Direct Care Workers: Getting By

Posted by on October 8th, 2009 at 2:16 pm | 2 Comments »
David Moreau

David Moreau

Ellie’s reading the community college brochure
and talking about becoming a CNA or a PT assistant,
complaining to Gina how long it takes,
Just to make fifteen bucks an hour
instead of ten oh nine.

Extra money for cigarettes and tattoos,
I tweak them. I can be an asshole, I know.
It’s more than that really. It’s having enough
to buy oil for the winter or bring your kids
to the doctor.

Of course she wants the government to pay
and remains convinced it’s the Somalians
in Tall Pines or the girl down the street on AFDC
taking all the tax money. I’m always arguing
she’s got it wrong. It’s the rich who cost
more than the poor.

Continue reading »

What Motivates – and Demotivates – Direct Care Workers?

Posted by on October 8th, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Comments Off on What Motivates – and Demotivates – Direct Care Workers?

gerontologist cover October 2009For an academic but accessible take on what motivates – or demotivates – direct care workers, check out this month’s issue of The Gerontologist. The main focus is a section titled Direct Care Worker Job Satisfaction and Retention, which includes four reports on the factors that make direct care workers like or dislike their jobs.

“Intrinsic Job Satisfaction, Overall Satisfaction, and Intention to Leave the Job Among Nursing Assistants in Nursing Homes” reports that nursing assistants who feel supported by their supervisors and satisfied with their pay are likeliest to be satisfied with their jobs. “Other job characteristics, such as the workload structuring the time to assist residents with ADLs, also seem important aspect of NAs’ work experience [that are] amenable to change,” note authors Frederic H. Decker and colleagues.

In “Nursing Home Work Practices and Nursing Assistants’ Job Satisfaction,” Christine E. Bishop and colleagues analyze data from the recently released 2004 National Nursing Assistant Survey, finding that workers are more satisfied when they earn higher wages, get paid personal leave and sick days, and have enough time to complete their work (that last point is also associated with higher staffing levels). Also associated with higher satisfaction are feeling respected and valued by employers, having good relationships with supervisors, having challenging work, not being subjected to mandatory overtime, and working in a home where food is not delivered to residents on trays. Continue reading »

New Hampshire Analyzes the Needs of—and the Need for — Home Care Workers

Posted by on October 8th, 2009 at 12:35 pm | 3 Comments »
From Home Care Workers: Keeping Granite Staters in Their Homes as They Age.

From Home Care Workers: Keeping Granite Staters in Their Homes as They Age.

As Terry Lynch pointed out in his most recent blog post, the popular – and federally mandated – trend of using Medicaid to pay for less nursing home care and more home care cannot continue unless states can attract and keep more home care workers. A pair of recent papers from New Hampshire looks at just what that means for the state of New Hampshire.

In Home Care Workers: Keeping Granite Staters in Their Homes as They Age, (PDF) Kristin Smith of the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute profiles home care workers. The 12-page policy brief provides a demographic and economic overview of the state’s licensed nursing assistants, personal care service providers, personal care assistants (PCA), and homemakers and companions. It also discusses the implication of low pay and high turnover among direct care workers for those who rely on their services. Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers: the Foundation for Community-Based Care

Posted by on October 8th, 2009 at 11:35 am | 1 Comment »
Terry Lynch

Terry Lynch

Wisconsin is one of many states establishing community-based managed care programs for older people and people with disabilities. These programs are gradually supplanting the home and community-based Medicaid waiver programs that have been the primary funding source for state alternatives to nursing home care.

As in other states, there have been long waiting lists for our Medicaid waiver programs. Many people have gone for years before being served. Many others have had no choice but to move to nursing homes, since there are no waiting lists for life in an institution.

Wisconsin is now expanding two managed care programs – Family Care and Partnership – that aim to eliminate waiting lists while helping consumers remain in their homes. Consumers who are Medicaid-eligible and at risk of nursing home placement are entitled to services in one or the other of these programs.

These programs are improving the lives of many consumers and family caregivers, but our economic crisis makes it difficult for Wisconsin to take them statewide. Meanwhile, another less visible crisis, the growing shortage of direct care workers, threatens these programs’ very survival. Continue reading »