Archive for December, 2010

Tax Season Is Here! Resources for direct care workers

Posted by on December 20th, 2010 at 11:24 am | 2 Comments »

This is a guest post from Tameshia Bridges, MI Senior Workforce Advocate for PHI.

Tax time is here and it is time to start thinking about how you are going to get your taxes done and get a bigger tax refund.

Many people turn to commercial tax preparers and pay to have their taxes done and their refund back fast.  However, these preparers can be expensive and the “rapid refunds” they offer are often refund anticipation loans that come with high interest rates.  One way you can avoid these costs is to go to a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site and have your taxes prepared for free. Continue reading »

PA Supreme Court Mandates Overtime Pay for Home Health Aides

Posted by on December 20th, 2010 at 11:14 am | 2 Comments »

Connie Kreider

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that home health aides must get paid overtime!  This is an exciting victory that will change change the lives of many Pennsylvania direct care workers in home health settings.  So many direct care workers struggle to keep two or more jobs just to meet their monthly expenses.  Many do not have affordable health care and are providing care to not only their consumers, but to their own children and elderly parents as well.

The ruling in Pennsylvania is a blessing, and gives hope to all direct care workers across the country.  The heart of a direct care worker is full of compassion for providing the best care possible, and this ruling means better quality jobs for them and better quality care for those they serve. This ruling will change the future for all home health aides in Pennsylvania and provide them with adequate compensation for their profession. I hope that PA will set an example for other states to do the same. Continue reading »

A Closer Look at the Companionship Exemption: Responding to fair labor opponents

Posted by on December 20th, 2010 at 10:51 am | 3 Comments »

Helen Hanson

A lot has been said about the companionship exemption over the years, and the recently introduced Direct Care Workforce Empowerment Act has brought the minimum wage and overtime protection issue to the front of the dialogue again.  But as we work together to advocate for this legislative fix to the Fair Labor Standards Act, let’s remember that there’s an alternative: a regulatory fix by the Department of Labor.  The newest policy brief from the Direct Care Alliance, “Minimum Wage & Overtime Protection for All?” provides a closer look at the companionship exemption and recommends strategies for ensuring a resolution. As we move closer to proposed regulations from DOL – likely in October 2011 – we must rally in support of an FLSA modification. As I read the brief, I realized that although the efforts of direct care workers and their allies were strong and motivated in the past, we were outnumbered by those who sought to keep us excluded from the basic labor protections enjoyed by almost every other workforce in this country.  In this brief, Lisa Forhan discusses the need for the companionship exemption to be addressed legislatively and/or through the regulatory process, and explains how workers and allies can unite to make that happen. Click here to read the brief.

In my ongoing work in support of the Direct Care Workforce Empowerment Act, I recently got a negative response from a home care provider association when I asked them to support the bill.

I expected the response I got, but I still found it very upsetting. It made me feel like it is okay for workers to stay where they are, classified as companions. It is not okay. Home care workers are the backbone of home care agencies. Without the workers, there would be no agencies. With more people opting for home care services, and Maine and the nation growing older, where will the workers come from, if something is not done to stabilize the workforce or make direct care work more appealing? Continue reading »

Florida Care Giver of the Year, Direct Care Workers to Help Expand FPACG

Posted by on December 13th, 2010 at 12:25 pm | 2 Comments »

The Florida Professional Association of Care Givers’ 15th Annual Convention was held recently in Winter Haven, Florida.  More than 40 direct care workers and allies attended, and learned about direct care workforce issues, advocacy and substantive issues such as manual lymph drainage, which was well received and a lot more fun than the title suggests. There was an equally interesting afternoon session on “Compassion Fatigue and Effective Communications”. Workers present were eager to get certificates for these sessions and enjoyed the raffles and recognitions given out all day.


FPACG Care Giver of the Year Maizie Ramkisson (left) with FPACG founder Terry Bucher

The highlights of the day were the awards provided to workers who headed up chapters, the nominations for caregiver of the year and commitments made to the importance of the association and caregiving profession. DCA Voices Institute graduate  Maizie Ramkisson was recognized as the Career Care Giver of the Year! DCA Voices Institute grad Nancy Streibel, the current Board President, indicated enthusiasm about joining forces with the Direct Care Alliance and this opinion was voiced by others familiar with the DCA.

Maizie and other members of FPACG are excited about expanding the association and are working with DCA to build membership and increase turnout at future events.  “I think the convention was a good thing, though the turnout was disappointing. We are coming up with new and better ways to get folks to turn out. Continue reading »

Using My Voice Saved My Daughter’s Life

Posted by on December 13th, 2010 at 12:07 pm | 3 Comments »

Tracy Dudzinski

I recently posted a blog entry about a challenge my family was facing with my daughter and her insulin. As I stated in the blog, I was going to contact my elected officials to ask for help in keeping my daughter alive. I wrote those letters and was fortunate that my state senator’s office wrote back to me.

Senator Olsen’s office contacted me and put me in touch with someone from constituent services in the department of health services. I talked to this person and she forwarded my concern on to someone in the division of healthcare access and accountability. I played phone tag for several days with this person. On October 18, at 5:22 p.m., we finally touched base. I was asked what the division could do for me and I explained the situation one more time and asked her to help me figure out a way to keep my daughter alive. She stated that the Benchmark plan does not cover name brand prescriptions but there was a way to get the insulin covered. She went on to explain that the doctor writing the prescription needed to write on the prescription that my daughter had a physical in the last year. It was that simple; one sentence was all that was needed to get the insulin covered.

Needless to say, I was on cloud nine when I found out, I called everyone who knew about the crisis that my family was facing and told them the good news. As the high wore off I started to think about other families who may be facing the same situation and wondered how I could get the word out about this simple fix, which I think we should have been told about right away. I am writing this blog to encourage others facing similar situations to not take “no” for an answer. Before I attended the DCA’s Voices Institute, I would have taken no for an answer – but VI taught me to stand up for what I believe in and advocate for myself and my family. Continue reading »

‘Tis the Season…to talk about aging!

Posted by on December 13th, 2010 at 11:52 am | Comments Off on ‘Tis the Season…to talk about aging!

This fall, author Terry Lynch wrote about fostering open and honest dialogue about aging with parents and loved ones. And as the holidays approach, journalist Paula Span suggests now’s a great time to broach the subject with your family. Watch her video interview below.

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USDA, Cooperative Development Foundation & DCA Collaborate to Support Home Care in Rural Communities

Posted by on December 7th, 2010 at 10:59 am | Comments Off on USDA, Cooperative Development Foundation & DCA Collaborate to Support Home Care in Rural Communities

This is a guest post by Liz Bailey, Executive Director for the Cooperative Development Foundation.

CDFWe are delighted to have the Direct Care Alliance (DCA) as one of our partners in a recent grant award we received from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). First let me tell you something about the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF). CDF is a national 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission to promote awareness of the cooperative business model and encourage the growth and expansion of cooperative businesses in both urban and rural settings. We already are working to promote development of cooperatives that meet the needs of senior citizens living in rural communities. With this USDA grant, we will expand that work and partner with DCA to focus on home care cooperatives in rural communities.

Many of you may already be somewhat familiar with home care cooperatives. In fact, Cooperative Care –  a pioneering home care cooperative in rural Wisconsin that Tracy Dudzinski helps lead – received several grant awards from CDF in its early development. We’re very proud of having played a role with Cooperative Care and now we are thrilled to have the opportunity to work with DCA to make even more direct care workers aware of what’s involved in becoming a member of a home care cooperative. Continue reading »

Putting Your Heart in the Game: Calling for Change in Arizona

Posted by on December 7th, 2010 at 10:40 am | 1 Comment »
Doe Clinco Presentation

Timothy Doe (left) and Judy Clinco discuss direct care issues with the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona

The Arizona Direct Care Worker Association has had an exciting couple of months. Before the election, several colleagues and I made visits to the offices of Sen. John McCain and Sen. Jon Kyl to seek support for the Direct Care Workforce Empowerment Act. We explained our interest in the legislation and how it needs to be bipartisan and widely supported. We also visited Rep. Raul Grijalva to thank him for co-signing the bill and for his understanding of the conditions for direct care workers in Arizona and the entire country. The biggest surprise was finding out how many people in their offices knew someone – a family member or friend – who relied on the care and support of a direct care worker. We spoke about the dire need for better training, wages and benefits for workers and discussed the poor working conditions for direct care workers and how it impacts those we serve.

In September, we hosted our annual conference, “A Celebration of Caring”, which was a wonderful success. It was so great to see everyone together in one place, celebrating their jobs and inspiring each other. We are busy planning next year’s conference already but several attendees mentioned that we could have most of the same speakers back and it would be fine. We will have an all new line-up next September of 2011 but it was great to hear such praise for our first annual conference. We honored several individual care workers for outstanding work in our profession. However, everyone walked away a winner and collected prizes donated from a supportive business community in Tucson. In November, members of the ADCWA sponsored a team at the Alzheimer Memory Walk in honor of Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. Our association has decided to focus more resources next year reaching out to the community and creating a buzz of public awareness. Continue reading »

No Right Way to Talk: Helping those we serve make their voices heard, too

Posted by on December 7th, 2010 at 10:34 am | 1 Comment »

David Moreau

I bring Donnie and Louise into WAI to get the dry mops.  All the participants are sitting politely at a big table.  They each have a piece of orange construction paper placed in front of them. They wait while two staff people are over at their desks cutting brown strips of paper. As we squeeze by, Noelle says to me in her little girl’s voice, “You lose your power?”

We had a heckuva storm last night. Wind and rain.  Everyone’s been talking about losing their power. I was just about to answer her when one of the staff people across the room says firmly, “Noelle, TALK like an ADULT.”

As I pass by the staff person I ask, “How is that not like an adult?”
Continue reading »