Archive for April, 2010

DCA Applauds DOL Commitment to Address Wage & Overtime Protections for Workers

Posted by on April 27th, 2010 at 8:51 am | Comments Off on DCA Applauds DOL Commitment to Address Wage & Overtime Protections for Workers

Leonila Vega

The Department of Labor has responded to the demands of advocates and workers by taking an initial step toward addressing the critical issue that prevents millions of direct care workers today from being afforded minimum wage and overtime protections.  The Direct Care Alliance has been a strong voice in advocating for this change within DOL, among legislators and with President Obama.  With workers’ support, DCA has called for an update to the antiquated and unjust rules that exclude home care workers from basic legal protections that every workforce sector enjoys.  Read our official statement.

Following the Supreme Court ruling against Evelyn Coke in 2007, DCA acted swiftly by launching the “Respect for Home Care Campaign.”  Since then, our members and allies have joined us in writing hundreds of letters to public officials and educating them about the needs of this invaluable workforce.  Shortly after the launch of this campaign, DCA joined with Congresswoman Linda Sanchez (D-CA) to spearhead a letter, signed by over forty Members of Congress, to DOL Secretary Hilda Solis urging her take the necessary steps to address this issue. In addition, fifteen U.S. Senators also joined us in calling on DOL to take such action. We have been fortunate to count thousands of workers and dozens of organizations as allies in this effort, notably the Elder Workforce Alliance, PHI and the National Employment Law Project. Read more about our efforts here. Continue reading »

To be a home care worker…and a recent immigrant

Posted by on April 26th, 2010 at 10:41 am | 1 Comment »

As an advocate for home care workers in the heart of the Los Angeles immigrant community, I work with hundreds of immigrant home care workers in my role as a leader and Associate Director of the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC). I attended a meeting in Houston from April 14-15, 2010, organized by the Department of Labor Office of Safety and Health Administration (DOL-OSHA), where Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis spoke about safety in the workplace. Immigration was a topic of the discussion as well, given that so many workers who face labor safety issues are recent immigrants to America. “Working without papers may be against the law, but it is NOT A DEATH SENTENCE!” said Secretary Solis. DOL statistics reveal that 14 immigrants die each day in the U.S. because of unsafe working conditions. Caregivers are among them.


Continue reading »

Thank you

Posted by on April 24th, 2010 at 4:05 pm | 4 Comments »
Bridget Siljander

Bridget Siljander

It is with mixed emotions that I announce my departure from the staff of the Direct Care Alliance. It is an incredible organization that is building a movement for positive change in the direct care profession. I have met many wonderful people over the years and I look forward to continuing to work with you all.

In the coming months I plan to pursue other professional opportunities. Though I’m no longer serving in an official capacity for DCA, I look forward to continuing to serve as an ally, advocate and friend.

The Privilege of Disability

Posted by on April 23rd, 2010 at 9:58 am | 6 Comments »

Lynne Wichmann

The privilege of disability. The pride of diversity. The power of us. We are together, you and I.

In this culture that creates ample opportunity for individuality, we forge a fierce allegiance and a powerful alliance. We are caregivers for each other, you and I. We tend to physical needs. We tune in to emotional states. We hone our own abilities and we honor each other’s talents. This is perfect symmetry. As we care for each other, we demonstrate a seamless partnership. This occurs through our mutual and deliberate promotion of dignity. We know that wellness is a conscious, self-directed and evolving process of achieving full potential.

Fifty four million Americans live with disability, either an obvious disability such as multiple sclerosis or a hidden disability such as mental illness. Disability may result from a congenital condition, may be an acquired condition due to disease or illness or may occur due to an accident. Research predicts that the incidence of disability will rise as Americans live longer. The historical approach to disability and rehabilitation has been a medical/clinical model with a narrow focus on trauma and recovery. Together, you and I create a new view of disability. We focus on resilience, redirection and redefinition of disability. Continue reading »

Doctors Are Part of Our Caregiving Team

Posted by on April 19th, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Comments Off on Doctors Are Part of Our Caregiving Team

Thais Abernethy

Today I would like to talk about doctors and our relationship and interaction with them. Most of us have our favorite docs, nurses and hospitals based on our experiences or because of friends and/or word of mouth. Word of mouth is a powerful tool we have to network. If we like or dislike something or someone, word of mouth can break or make any company or individual.

Today’s tip – Be not afraid of doctors and the health care system. Your doctors are part of your caregiving team. You are also part of this team. This team is formed exclusively for the well-being of our loved one who is the captain of this team. I know it is overwhelming to say the least. As a caregiver and/or family member helping, it is (for me) one of the most important aspects of caregiving and personal sanity. Technology, in this case, is one of the most powerful tools you can have. From email to cell phones, this way of communication is a must for me. The majority of this new generation of doctors appreciates this form of communicating with family members and patients.

The email and cell phone was my lifeline with all the doctors (4 heart specialists) at UVA. UVA hospital promotes and encourages their doctors to communicate with their patients and families this way. If you go online, you will see all the doctors, their bio and email address. It was great and refreshing to see. They volunteered their cell phone numbers and their office personnel for my needs and the needs of my husband Bo. If they were available, the returned calls, text messages, or emails were immediate. If they were unavailable, their nurses and/or support staff answered. The key was that I was taken care of and never had to wait for answers. Read Thais’ column.

Bathing a Stranger

Posted by on April 12th, 2010 at 12:50 pm | 14 Comments »

Cathy Wolff

I had never bathed a stranger. My son, when he was little, yes; myself, of course. But not a stranger. Not a sad woman who no longer could use the French cookbooks carefully stored in a cabinet of her small apartment; who surrounded her chair with stacks of magazines and newspapers; who sat there for hours, listening day and night to a classical radio station. She had been alone much of her life and now she had grown old with no relatives, no friends, no money. I had never bathed a sad, strange woman who needed help.

Late afternoon light slanted into the small bathroom, casting half her body in shadow. She stood motionless, head bowed, hair falling forward, hiding half her face. Neither of us spoke. The only sound was the soft splash of water as I wrung out the washrag. I gently washed her neck and back. I could feel each vertebrae under the cloth, the sharpness of her shoulder blades. She neither helped nor resisted as I lifted first her left arm and then her right, moving across the hollows and creases, over the elbow down the long-fingered hands. Continue reading »

You Can Still Go to Hell

Posted by on April 9th, 2010 at 9:36 am | 6 Comments »

David Moreau

In Shop’N Save I’m trying to get Lorna to reach up
and grab a box of Little Debbie pink heart cakes
and though she won’t lift her hand above her shoulder
and is making anxious honking sounds, still,
I’m trying to get her to do it, because reaching up
will strengthen her back and there’s a hab plan written
somewhere that says she’s going to,
when I realize a little French woman is repeating,
Excuse me, and Louise, hands glued to the grocery cart,
is frozen in place blocking her.
I reach over and touch Louise’s right elbow and she
takes two big steps forward and says loudly, Yeah right,
while Leo, his mittens fastened to his sleeves,
flaps his arms like a seal and Lorna knocks
three boxes of Nutty Buddies on the floor.

The woman pats me on the arm and says,
There’s a special place in heaven for people like you,
and even though I like being thought of
as a saint and want to go to heaven
I know this isn’t really enough.
She only says it because she doesn’t know
the people I work with or how normal they are,
and all of us, therefore, don’t know,
as well, what normal is.

But I know Louise loves to sing,
We’re off to see the wizard…
and sometimes, completely out of nowhere,
she’ll walk up to Leo, give him a hug
and kiss him, gently, on top of his head.

What Health Care Reform Means for Direct Care Workers and Their Families

Posted by on April 6th, 2010 at 9:05 am | Comments Off on What Health Care Reform Means for Direct Care Workers and Their Families

David Ward

Families and businesses across the country continue trying to understand the many ways health care reform will impact them.  We’re right there with you – we want to know how employers and direct care workers will be affected by this sweeping reform.  We know that it holds promise and that thousands of direct care workers will now have insurance. But every situation is different.  We’ve put together a fact sheet exploring different situations and giving examples, such as:

Direct Care Worker #1—An uninsured single-parent with two children and an income of $20,500 (earning $9.84 per hour—the median wage for home health aides—and working full-time, year-round). Because this worker’s income is below 133 percent of the federal poverty line ($24,352), she or he would be eligible for Medicaid coverage starting in 2014. Some states already provide Medicaid or other public coverage to workers in this income range.

To find an example that fits you, read the complete fact sheet.

Why is One of the Most In-Demand Jobs So Low Paid?

Posted by on April 5th, 2010 at 10:07 am | 2 Comments »

Tracy Dudzinski

I recently spoke with journalist Beth Baker, who wrote an article for Ms. Magazine on trends and challenges in the direct care profession. Here’s an excerpt of the article below. You can read the complete article here.

Those who care for our elders continue to be stuck at the bottom as far as wages and respect [PDF], despite rapidly growing need for their services. No matter the setting in which they work—nursing homes, assisted living, individual homes—direct care workers are low-paid, often without health insurance and confronted with back-breaking labor and challenging clients with complex medical needs. And, no surprise, nearly 9 out of 10 direct-care workers are women, 30 percent are African-American and 21 percent are immigrants [PDF].  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, the elder care field is among the fastest-growing in the nation, with 50 percent growth from 2008 to 2018 predicted for home-care workers. But we’re doing little to attract people to these critical jobs. We reward women like Tracy with wages of less than $10 an hour. And Tracy, whose husband is on disability, is the sole breadwinner for her family of four children. Like another heavily-female occupation–child care–our nation expects caregivers to subsidize these services with their low wages. Read the full article here.

Health Care Reform to Improve Long-Term Care for Both Consumers and Direct Care Workers

Posted by on April 5th, 2010 at 9:51 am | 5 Comments »

Becka Livesay

Although health care reform continues to spark debate and controversy across the nation, when President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it marked the beginning of the most significant improvements to long-term care in a generation. Several components of the legislation, including Nursing Home Transparency and Improvement and the Elder Justice Act, will not only improve the care America’s long-term care consumers receive but will also improve and better the working conditions and training for direct care workers.

NCCNHR, The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care, works to improve the quality of care and life for long-term care consum­­ers and their families as well as working conditions and training for direct care workers.  When health care reform passed Congress, nearly a dozen policy resolutions adopted by NCCNHR were addressed, including developing a standardized form for reporting nursing service hours and turnover and retention rates, requiring states to address retaliation against resident representatives who complain about poor care, and safeguarding nursing home residents when nursing home ownership is transferred.  Health care reform will also address several ongoing problems faced by both consumers and workers. Continue reading »

Breathe deeply; the reward is immeasurable

Posted by on April 2nd, 2010 at 2:16 pm | 2 Comments »

Thais Abernethy

There is a moment in our lives that we surrender to our stress and acknowledge we need help. At that moment, help comes. It may show up in a myriad of different ways, and if we are observant and step back, we will see the miracle unfold in front of our eyes. Maybe a kind word or gesture comes our way from a complete stranger or a friend. Maybe, there is an article we read that will touch our heart and help us through a time of need. No matter the form it takes our answers always come. In my life, the moment I stop, and take a deep breath my body just starts to relax and my brain stops racing and the answers always come. You should try it and see what happens. This is the caregiving tip for the day: breathe deeply. Breathe as many times as long as it feels good. The reward is immeasurable.  Read Thais’ column.