Archive for May, 2010

Caregiver, Friend: A Pillar of Strength

Posted by on May 24th, 2010 at 8:57 am | Comments Off on Caregiver, Friend: A Pillar of Strength

Thais Abernethy

I’m fascinated by our body’s reaction when it’s sick or emotional. It’s such a wonderful machine that serves us well if we would only stop long enough to listen. Sometimes, we just don’t give ourselves permission and time to process our day’s events. In Papi’s case, his body would let us know sometimes days before a major event happened to him. Larry (our wonderful caregiver and Papi’s companion) and myself could get prepared and look for those signs that let us know something was not right. Between Larry, hospice and myself, we made my Papi as comfortable as possible. I enjoyed this unconditional service to him. It brought me joy – it brought me peace – it brought me closer to him and closer to Larry.

Larry Myers was my papi’s caregiver, companion and friend. They were together for over 3 years and I could not have survived this journey without him. Larry was one of my pillars of strength and anchor in a time of turmoil and uncertainty. He’s very knowledgeable in the art of giving and therefore my example of what a caregiver should be. I so honor and respect him as a human being, as a friend and as a professional caregiver. I learned a lot from him. I so hope and desire for him to find another family that will respect him and honor him as well. Read the rest of my post.

You Live An Interesting Life

Posted by on May 24th, 2010 at 8:41 am | 6 Comments »

Lynne Wichmann

I live an interesting life. Some years back I ran a marathon – 26.2 miles– in 3.5 hours. Four years ago I could run a mile in 8 minutes and I could do 5 of those miles without rest. Last September I participated in a competitive race. I had the pleasure of returning to that marathon. My wheelchair bike and I entered the 26.2 mile event, and it took us than an almost five hours to finish. The races I used to run were a solo event. My recent race was a team effort, as I carried with me the love and encouragement of so many good folks. The experience was exhilarating and the finish was ecstatic.

Living with a physical disability is a new experience for me. My legs are partially paralyzed. I have multiple sclerosis. Each day I am surprised that this disability has taken up residence in my body in such an obvious manner. This is also baffling to people who have known me for many years. I no longer have the leisure of being anonymous, blending in with a crowd, mingling privately with the masses. The responses I receive from people are as varied as my own reactions to this experience. Occasionally I see disdain, which is a reflection of one’s stereotypes of differences; sometimes I see fear, which is fear of one’s own vulnerability. Frequently I see curiosity and I appreciate questions more than silent speculation. Most often I see authentic interest in how someone can be of assistance to me, and during those moments I see, and experience, the gift of others’ pure personal goodness. This is a bright blessing. I live an interesting life. Continue reading »

DCA’s Personal Care Credential Continues Pilot Phase from Coast-to-Coast

Posted by on May 14th, 2010 at 1:31 pm | 1 Comment »

Vera Salter

Pilot testing of the new personal caregiver credential is going strong at testing sites across the country that have stepped up to participate in this exciting process.

The pilot phase kicked off on March 5, in Portland, Maine. Since then, tests have been administered in Arizona, California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maine, Michigan, and Pennsylvania by private duty home care agencies, centers for independent living and direct care workers associations. Workers who complete the pilot test will be among the first to receive the credential, which meets criteria outlined by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence and will be rolled out nationwide later this year. Two tests were administered by Jason Toro of the Training Academy for Personal Caregivers and Assistants in San Francisco. “Participants were excited and thankful to take the test and observed that the test questions are about real situations that are happening in the workplace,” Jason said. Continue reading »

Courageous Acts: Finding inspiration in direct care work

Posted by on May 13th, 2010 at 9:57 am | 3 Comments »

Vicki Erickson

I am one of the original 24 direct care workers selected from around the country to participate in the inaugural class of Voices Institute in 2008 . I am very proud to be a graduate of the very 1st Voices Institute.

One of the many things that has stuck with me is when we talked about the most courageous acts of our lives. For me, it was joining Iowa Caregivers Association because it brought my passion back to direct care. I was getting burned out and was ready to leave the direct care field at the time, but the Iowa Caregivers Association has taught me to have voice to talk to other CNA’s about what is going on in the health care field. Continue reading »

Maine’s Campaign for Better Care

Posted by on May 13th, 2010 at 9:04 am | 1 Comment »

Roy Gedat

Maine’s state-based Campaign for Better Care kicked off last week in Augusta with the DCA-Maine Chapter as one of its partners. Maine is one of six states sponsoring a campaign focused on more effectively involving consumers in treatment and care choices.

The multi-year initiative focuses on improving health care quality, coordination and communication for vulnerable older patients and those with multiple health problems. The nation-wide effort is lead in Maine by Consumers for Affordable Health Care along with partners including the American Heart Association- Founders Affiliate, City of Portland Minority Health Program, Direct Care Alliance- Maine Chapter, Eastern Area Agency on Aging , Law Office of Alice E. Knapp, Maine Council of Churches, Maine Council of Senior Citizens – Alliance for Retired Americans, Maine Equal Justice Partners, Maine Parent Federation, Maine People’s Resource Center and Maine Women’s Lobby. Continue reading »

Poems by Direct Care Workers: Small Potatoes

Posted by on May 10th, 2010 at 8:44 am | 1 Comment »

David Moreau

The girls have been talking shopping
a LOT lately, poring over the sales ads
in the Sun-Journal every morning,
while Jean-Paul sits with his coat on.
It’s, Penney’s has Levi’s less than thirty dollars,
and, TJ Maxx is good for Aerapostale.
It’s Best Buy vs. Wal-Mart, and who
shops at K-Mart anyway

I used to get away with saying stuff like,
The Christmas Tree Shop’s so convenient.
They took a bunch of crap I’d never buy
and put it all in one place so it’s easy
to stay away from
. But we’re not
getting along so well right now
and I don’t say anything. Continue reading »

Board Represents Diverse Direct Care Workforce

Posted by on May 10th, 2010 at 8:28 am | 3 Comments »

Jenn Craigue

The Direct Care Alliance had its annual board meeting in Orlando Florida April 26-28th. On the evening of the 26, the Florida Professional Association of Caregivers held a wonderful reception for the DCA board. We had a very good group together during this event. Members of the Florida Professional Association of Caregivers Board, and active members attended as well. We were also joined by Lisa Burck, Chair of the National Professional Alliance of Direct Support Professionals, and DCA staff and board members.

The Direct Care Alliance had a historical moment during this meeting. Both the Chair and Vice Chair positions were filled by direct care workers. Tracy Dudsinzki and I were pleased that we attracted numerous applicants from across the nation. I am proud to announce that additional direct care workers from a variety of work settings – home care, nursing homes and those providing supports to individuals living with development disabilities – have also joined our board. Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers Save Lives

Posted by on May 7th, 2010 at 10:08 am | 2 Comments »

I recently spoke at the Direct Care Alliance annual board meeting in Orlando, FL.  You can watch the video below.  Whenever I speak to groups of direct care workers, I think of you as the caregivers who did so much for my mother and for me — and what you did was miraculous.

I thought you were coming in only to help my mother with her personal care. Instead you were coming in to save our lives. My mother and I had eight more wonderful years together and we would not have had them without you.

What do direct care workers do, collectively, for our nation? You save the taxpayer millions of dollars. You save thousands of lives. You bring hope, dignity, and even joy to people whose lives would otherwise seem meaningless. And you teach us that people whose lives are on a downward spiral can be rescued and empowered to remain valued members of their communities.

Developing a State Association and Getting New Members

Posted by on May 6th, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Comments Off on Developing a State Association and Getting New Members

Lindsay Short

The Direct Support Professional Association of Minnesota (DSPAM) has become an important part in the fight for the professionalism and respect for direct support professionals. Since joining DSPAM 3 years ago, I have witnessed the growth and movement that this organization has done and how dedicated each person involved is to the direct care workers of Minnesota.

Over the last year DSPAM has pushed full force to be involved with advocacy, leadership, and taking care of direct support professionals. Our most proud and biggest accomplishment was our event held last September to pamper Minnesota DSPs and to allow them to have a day where the roles were reversed. Providing free haircuts and manicures, thanks to Spa Blu, over 200 DSPs attended receiving the pampering and care they so deserve. Through this event we were able to increase our membership to reach our first membership goal of 250. All of us are so thankful to our sponsors, donators, volunteers, and partners that helped make this event possible. Continue reading »

Putting Yourself First (at least some of the time!)

Posted by on May 3rd, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Comments Off on Putting Yourself First (at least some of the time!)

This post was submitted by an anonymous direct care worker.

After completing STNA training, I was sure of a few things I would not put up with on a job: lack of human concern, a rushed working environment, and the smell from bodily fluids inadequately cleaned. A friend of mine suggested home health care since it would allow me to avoid those things, be more focused and take care of people in their own homes. Well, here I am.

Currently, I provide care for a man who requires 24-hour assistance. At first when I visited him in the morning, I would often find him laying in a large puddle of urine. Of course, I would clean him, change the bedding and wash the laundry – but since I am not the kind to keep quiet for long, I soon began suggesting improvements for my consumer’s way of life by working with his other caregivers.

Now, he gets up 2 to 4 times a night to use the bathroom and has not had a pad on his bed for 2 weeks. Without working with the other caregivers and speaking out on his behalf, who knows how long he would have continued suffering? To me, direct care is all about quality of service, but it was frustrating trying to provide the best quality care when I was working anywhere from 50 to 80 hours a week, raising a family and running another business. Not only did I discover that I wasn’t getting paid overtime, but I also wasn’t receiving the extra dollar-per-hour reimbursement for travel I was promised.

I knew I had to put myself first, for sanity’s sake and in order to provide the best quality care. I’ve reduced my hours to about 36 per week, although that can change if the other caregivers are unable to work their shifts. Long hours mean that I don’t have extra time to spend with my son, who is on short leave from Kuwait. I’ve quit jobs for less that interfere with my son, but in this economy I’m doing my best to make it work. My advice: one day at a time. And don’t forget to put yourself first, and speak up if you are not being treated fairly.

Direct Care Workers Join DCA Board

Posted by on May 3rd, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers Join DCA Board

I’m thrilled to welcome three new members to the Direct Care Alliance board of directors: Angel Saylor, Mark Cerna and Ted Rippy.  These are three extraordinary individuals who care deeply about improving the direct care profession and have been involved with the DCA for years.  All three of them are graduates of the DCA Voices Institute. Continue reading »