Helen Hanson (L) at her graduation with instructor Ida Hall
I gave this speech on December 21 to the other students in my CNA certification class. After years as a home care worker, I got my CNA certification so I’d be eligible for a wider range of direct care jobs. Our instructor asked the group to pick someone to make a speech when we graduated. The class nominated me, and I figured it would help with my public speaking skills. But speaking in front of a group is getting better for me, I must say. I wasn’t at all nervous — it actually felt good!
I want to thank the Veteran’s Administration-Togus and Augusta Adult Education for making this CNA course available. It was a grueling course of 200 hours – 50 hours more than the current state requirement. I’m grateful for the opportunity and challenge this course offered.
I want to thank Lisa Theriault and Ida Hall, our instructors, for their patience, knowledge, and expertise in the field of nursing that they have imparted upon us. Personally, I enjoyed Ida’s “old school” teaching methods and her high expectations of us. One of my high school teachers was the same way, and she’s the one that inspired me to push myself beyond my comfort zones and to do the best that I can with the knowledge I have. She’s the teacher I remember from my high school years – twenty-five-some-odd years ago.
With our graduation this evening, we now have the skills and knowledge to work as CNAs. Through this work, we all have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those in our care. Continue reading »
This is another big step toward ensuring that health care is affordable for millions of currently uninsured Americans – including hundreds of thousands of direct care workers. As the advocacy voice for more than three million direct care workers, we are excited to see our government so close to guaranteeing affordable, quality health insurance for all Americans.
Both the House and Senate are now working to merge the two bills. Once both chambers of Congress pass a single health care reform bill, the President will either sign the bill into law or veto the bill and return it to Congress.
We are also grateful to all of our constituents and allies who have already contacted their representatives to urge them to pass this bill. Please continue to tell your representatives why health care reform matters to you and why it is important that they pass the final version of the bill. To locate your senators and members of Congress, call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121.
Director of Policy and Planning
Direct Care Alliance
I am delighted to announce that Vera Salter will join us part-time on January 1 as our new Professional Development Director. She will be responsible for developing a national credentialing program for personal care workers.
Vera has been a tireless supporter of direct care workers — and of the DCA — for years. She joined our board of directors in 2007, serving as vice chair before being elected chair last April. In her board role, she provided technical assistance and volunteer work to develop our credentialing project and helped design the curriculum for our Voices Institute National Leadership Program.
In her new position, Vera will lead the development of the Direct Care Alliance credentialing program. The project will create a competency-based credentialing system for personal assistance workers who aid elders and people with disabilities with the activities of daily living in their own homes. Continue reading »
As of January 1, the Direct Care Alliance board will be led by two direct care workers.
Jenn Craigue will ascend from her current position of vice chair to become chair. One of the founders of the DCA, she has been a direct care worker for more than 10 years.
Jenn nominated Tracy Dudzinski, another direct care worker and a member of the board since last year, as her vice chair, and the board of directors voted her in. Dudzinski is the chair of the DCA’s advocacy committee and the vice chair of the Wisconsin Direct Caregiver Alliance.
“I am honored to be appointed vice chair of the DCA and I look forward to furthering its mission,” says Dudzinski. “I hope to encourage more direct care workers to become actively involved in DCA by letting their voices be heard. Leadership can be a scary thing, but I believe if given the chance most people can step up and lead.”
This past Saturday we learned that senate lawmakers failed to include the direct care workforce amendment (PDF) championed by Senators Robert Casey, Herb Kohl, and Russ Feingold in Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) manager’s amendment (PDF) to the Senate version of the health care reform bill.The Senate is expected to vote on the health care reform bill at 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, Christmas Eve Day. The bill is widely expected to be approved by the chamber.
We are pleased that Senate bill includes a number of key benefits for direct care workers and their families, including expanded choice and access to affordable health insurance coverage, increased training and education opportunities, and Community Living and Supportive Services (CLASS) Plan provisions.
However, we are disappointed at the Senate’s failure to include the Casey-Kohl-Feingold amendment to ensure that the direct care workforce is a “high priority” focus area of the National Healthcare Workforce Commission that would be established under the senate health care reform bill. The goal of the commission is to gather and review information on the nation’s health care workforce, providing comprehensive recommendations to Congress and the Administration on ways to strengthen this workforce. Continue reading »
As a direct care worker working with a quadreplegic in her home, I receive no health care benefits. I help this lady maintain her independence by providing personal care, dressing her, and doing the other things she cannot do for herself, things that people without disabilities take for granted.
It is a shame that such a noble profession – helping people maintain their independence and dignity – carries no health care benefit. So many of us direct care workers provide health care without being able to obtain affordable coverage ourselves.
The Senate is planning to vote on health care reform this Thursday, before the Christmas break. Before they vote, our senators need to hear from direct care workers. They need to hear what it is like to do this kind of work and not have any health care benefit themselves.
I urge workers who support reform to call their senators and tell them we need health care reform. The last time anyone tried to fix health care was during the early years of the Clinton administration, when my 18-year-old daughter was just a baby. We cannot wait until I’m a grandmother – or later – to fix our broken health care system. We need to make things better now, while we have the chance.
Please call Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid at 202-224-3542 to ask him to support health care reform. Also call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121 to locate your senator and ask him or her to do the same.
Home Care Worker
Graduate, 2009 Voices Institute National Leadership Program
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on December 21st, 2009 at 11:11 pm | Comments Off on Demand Still Rising Fast for Direct Care Workers
The latest projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics
According to the latest 10-year projects from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, home health aides and personal and home care aides are still among the fastest-growing job categories in the nation.
Between 2008 and 2018, home health aide jobs are expected to grow by 50% and personal and home care jobs by 46%, making them the third- and fourth-fastest growing categories in the U.S. The only faster-growing job categories are biomedical engineer and network systems and data communications analyst. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on December 21st, 2009 at 10:33 pm | Comments Off on Nursing Assistant in the U.S., King in Uganda
Charles Wesley Mumbere
A political refugee from Uganda who worked for years as a nursing assistant in Maryland and Pennsylvania has gone back home to take his place as king of the Rwenzururu Kingdom. According to an Associated Press article about Charles Wesley Mumbere, “The new King of Uganda’s Mountains of the Moon has undergone many transformations — from teenage leader of a rebel force to impoverished student to a nursing home assistant working two jobs in the U.S., where he lived for nearly 25 years.”
Mumbere grew up in the bush with a rebel group led by his father, a deposed king who was leading his Bakonzo people in protest against their oppression by the Toro Kingdom. After his father’s death, Mumbere came to the United States to study, gained political asylum, and trained as a nurse’s aide.
He chose the work, he told the paper, because it was reliable. “Other jobs you can be laid off easily.” But surviving on a nursing assistant’s salary wasn’t easy. “Sometimes you have two jobs,” he said. “You go to college in the morning, between 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Then you go prepare to go to work at 3 p.m. and then return at 11 p.m.”
Under a new arrangement with the Ugandan government, the exiled king was reinstated. He has no executive power, but he may determine cultural and social issues affecting his people.
A National Book Award awarded last month for a young adult book has given its subject, a retired nursing assistant, a taste of long-overdue fame for a brave act in her youth.
Claudette Colvin, a civil rights pioneer who refused to give up her seat to a white woman in Montgomery months before Rosa Parks walked into history books by doing the same, recently retired after 35 years as a nursing assistant in a New York City nursing home.
The civil rights leaders planning to fight segregation laws in court decided not to use Colvin’s arrest as their test case, the author of the book told the New York Times. “They worried they couldn’t win with her. Words like ‘mouthy,’ ‘emotional’ and ‘feisty’ were used to describe her.”
In the Times article, Colvin said even her own mother told her it was best to cede the spotlight to Parks. “My mother told me to be quiet about what I did,” she recalled. “She told me: ‘Let Rosa be the one. White people aren’t going to bother Rosa — her skin is lighter than yours and they like her.’ ”
Direct Care Alliance
Posted by Lindsay Short on December 21st, 2009 at 9:20 pm | Comments Off on DSPAM’s New President Plans to Build on Past Success
I am honored to have been elected president of the Direct Support Professional Association of Minnesota as of next year.
Being a part of DSPAM over the last two years has been an eye-opening, life-changing experience. I’ve had the opportunity to work with amazing people on the DSPAM board of directors, and I’ve watched DSPAM turn into an amazing organization, overcoming many milestones and accomplishing many of its goals.
Don’t use it against us
that we become attached
to the people we serve,
that we love them
as we care for them.
Don’t think you don’t need to pay us
enough to have a home,
to make a car payment,
to bring our children to the doctor…
Don’t think we’ll do it
out of the goodness of our hearts –
even though our hearts are good.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on December 21st, 2009 at 5:43 pm | Comments Off on Bill Would Create Home Health Care Jobs for Public Housing Residents
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
Congresswoman Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY) has asked the the U.S. House of Representatives to provide home health care training for public housing residents in New York City, so they can assist their fellow residents. The congresswoman introduced her Together We Care Act of 2009 into the House on December 7.
“This effort meets the needs of our community by helping to lift public housing residents out of poverty and providing care for those who need it most. We need to find creative, new ways to help New Yorkers get back to work, and this bill does just that,” said Congresswoman Velázquez.
The congresswoman says the bill would create 6,000 jobs in New York City alone, while increasing assistance for thousands of senior and disabled tenants.
The Direct Care Alliance has asked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to support a direct care worker amendment to the Senate’s version of the health care reform bill. The amendment calls for including the direct care workforce as a “high priority” focus area for the National Health Care Workforce Commission.
In a December 15 letter (PDF), the DCA and 35 other organizations asked Senator Reid to include the amendment in the final version of the Senate’s health care reform bill. Five more organizations joined the list of endorsers (PDF) after the letter was sent.
Sponsored by Senators Robert Casey (D-PA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI), the amendment would add direct care workers to the list of health care workers to be studied by a National Healthcare Workforce Commission to be created under the Patient Protection and Affordable Choices Act. This no-cost amendment will ensure that the commission will review current and projected needs involving the direct care workforce, providing comprehensive recommendations to Congress and the Administration on how best to align direct care workforce resources with our national needs.
Posted by Rachael Musial on December 6th, 2009 at 10:33 pm | Comments Off on New York State Budget Crisis
Governor David Patterson of New York has recently proposed budget cuts to many branches of government that directly affect people in the special needs field. The budget cuts would mean a cut in the services provided to the people we serve. They could even mean cuts to direct care staffing.
Four ladies who live in the residence where I work volunteer, work, and are very active in the community. When we sat down and expressed what was going on at the capital they wanted to go there to speak their minds, so they came to Albany on November 10, along with a few of us staff and other people from the ARC chapter I work with.
The vigil we attended had about a hundred people (there were others around the state, and some had as many as 250 people). There were direct care and administrative staff along with family members, advocates, and the folks themselves. Signs and stickers stating “Don’t I Matter” were handed out, along with quotes expressing everyone’s concerns.
Thanks to the leadership of Senators Robert Casey [PA] and Herb Kohl [WI], a direct care worker amendment (PDF) has been filed to the Senate health care reform bill, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The amendment adds the direct care workforce as a “high priority” focus area of the National Health Care Workforce Commission. The commission would examine a number of key health care workforce issues, as part of the bill’s effort to expand access to millions of uninsured Americans, but the current list of health care professions to be studied does not include direct care workers.
Tracy Dudzinsky, a graduate of the DCA’s Voices Institute National Leadership Program and president of the Wisconsin Direct Caregiver Alliance, led the charge in getting this amendment introduced when she visited Senator Feingold’s office in September.
Tracy was helped early on by fellow direct care worker and Voices Institute NLP graduate Brenda Nachtway, who asked Senator Casey to support the direct care worker amendment. Instead, Senator Casey went above and beyond Brenda’s request and offered to sponsor the amendment!