Archive for January, 2011

Professional Development, Networking at Philadelphia Chapter Meeting

Posted by on January 31st, 2011 at 11:47 am | Comments Off on Professional Development, Networking at Philadelphia Chapter Meeting

Brenda Nachtway

Join us for the first meeting of the year! The Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association will gather to learn, network and celebrate. First, we’ll hear from JEVS Human Services on durable medical equipment, understanding disability culture, and effective communication. Participants will receive certificates of completion for this educational session! Then we’ll discuss leadership opportunities and the exciting new DCA Personal Care and Support Credential, and finish off with refreshments and get the chance to talk, share ideas and support each other.

Please let me or Roy Gedat know if you plan on coming by emailing us at or We’d love to see you, and please invite your friends and coworkers! Read more about the event on Facebook or download the flyer.

DCA Seeks Commissioners to Oversee Personal Care and Support Credential

Posted by on January 31st, 2011 at 11:37 am | Comments Off on DCA Seeks Commissioners to Oversee Personal Care and Support Credential

The Direct Care Alliance is launching a pioneering professional development initiative for direct care workers and we’re looking for a few committed volunteers to oversee the program.

The DCA’s Personal Care and Support Credential is the first stage of a planned DCA career lattice for direct care workers who provide supports and services to elders and people living with disabilities. The career lattice will ultimately include credentials for various areas of specialization.

The new credential tests for the skills, aptitude, and knowledge personal assistance workers need to provide high-quality, non-specialized care to elders and people living with disabilities. Developed in accordance with Institute for Credentialing Excellence standards, it was based on criteria created in focus groups nationwide by employers, workers, and people who use personal assistance services.

The Personal Care and Support Credential creates a new gold standard for personal and home care work, giving caregivers a way to prove their competence and increase their potential market value and career opportunities. It also provides peace of mind to employers and to the elders and people with disabilities who rely on these workers, offering them a consistent national standard for judging a worker’s professionalism. “This credential is a way for direct care employers and the people needing direct care services to know when they have a highly skilled and knowledgeable worker,” says DCA Professional Development Manager Helen Hanson.

Dennis Fitzgibbons

Dennis Fitzgibbons (left), M.Ed., a co-chair of the commission that oversees the Personal Care and Support Credential, says it will be particularly useful for consumers and employers recruiting personal assistance workers. “It will be very helpful for the consumer recruiting a direct care worker to know that a potential worker has demonstrated the knowledge and skills needed to be a good personal assistance worker,” he says. Continue reading »

State Budget Deficits are Causing a Care Crisis

Posted by on January 24th, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Comments Off on State Budget Deficits are Causing a Care Crisis

David Ward

In the wake of a slow economic recovery, state budget deficits are growing as unemployment remains high and state tax revenues continue to shrink.  States that have fallen victim to budget shortfalls are being forced consider cuts to human service programs at a time when people need them most.

The deficit crisis is not discriminating between states that are known for its spending and states that are noted for their fiscal restraint.  California, Illinois and New York  are all facing significant deficits.  But so is Texas, which is facing a $25 billion budget deficit.  Given its already lean budget, the Texas legislature is considering cutting Medicaid altogether.  This is at a time when nearly one in ten Americans are unemployed and more families are relying on safety net programs such as Medicaid.

California, on the other hand, has been battling budget problems for some time and has made multiple attempts to reduce reimbursements to state health care providers, including direct care workers.  In 2008, this effort was rebuked by Federal courts and now the Supreme Court is set to hear the case.   Many states, health and long-term care consumers and workers will be impacted by this ruling.

States are already taking action and health care and social services are on the chopping block. Continue reading »

How Taking Out the Trash Reminded Me Why I Love My Job

Posted by on January 24th, 2011 at 12:42 pm | 2 Comments »

David Moreau


Say it, Melinda, Marge says. She is a staff person and Melinda is one of the participants assigned to her. Marge is sitting at the front table doing her tracking after lunch while Melinda strings beads like she did all morning, and repeats,


Oh, that’s pretty funny, Ellie, another staff person, says. What happens when she says that at home tonight? They have this conversation right in front of Melinda, who likes to say Ellie’s name.  She says it a lot.  It must sound good to her. Ellie usually puts up with it.  But today she said it was driving her crazy, which caused Marge to start rousting Melinda. Continue reading »

Advocating for Effective Health Reform Implementation

Posted by on January 17th, 2011 at 11:50 am | 2 Comments »

John Hale

This is a special introduction from John Hale of the Iowa Caregivers Association to the new Direct Care Alliance policy brief by Shawn Fremstad, “Implementing the Coverage Provisions of Health Care Reform: What’s at Stake for Direct Care Workers.” Click here to download the brief.

Do you know how difficult it is to get a law passed? It can be just as, if not more difficult, to get it implemented.

The passage of the federal health care reform bill is a case in point. It was very difficult to get it passed; lots of compromises were made to get the votes needed. The bill contains numerous complex provisions that staff in federal and state agencies will have to think through and begin to plan for.

And that planning has begun. In Iowa and in every state, all kinds of meetings are being held to talk about pieces of the legislation…setting up Health Benefit Exchanges, expanding Medicaid, creating and using new High Risk Health Pools, establishing more Community Health Centers, etc. All of this planning leads to decisions. And decisions can be good or bad, depending on who has decided to speak up and be heard.

I urge direct care workers to speak up. Continue reading »

A Daughter Says Thank You to Direct Care Workers

Posted by on January 17th, 2011 at 11:11 am | Comments Off on A Daughter Says Thank You to Direct Care Workers

This is a guest post by Terri Freed, originally written for the Arizona Direct Care Worker Association.

Until my father’s passing two years ago, my parents were happily married for 66 years. Other than my father’s two years of military service overseas, my parents never spent a night apart.

Then came Alzheimer’s Disease and slowly my beautiful, intelligent, out-going, and loving mother began to suffer the devasting effects of this terrible disease. As a family, we all surrounded her and my father with as much support and care as possible making the very most of every moment we had together. Over the months and years, I watched the deep love my parents had for each other grow even stronger as my father supported her needs and made her feel safe and cared for. However, eventually the disease necessitated the need for skilled nursing care and although heartbroken about this decision, our family knew that we would need to place Mom in a nursing home. And, my Dad who had not spent a night away from his wife in 64 years, had to deal with this painful stage in his life. As much as he tried to project a cheerful attitude for my mother and for my sister and me, I knew he was heartbroken. Continue reading »

DCA Looking Forward: Full Steam Ahead!

Posted by on January 5th, 2011 at 3:36 pm | 2 Comments »

Leonila Vega

Dear Friends,

Thanks to you, the Direct Care Alliance has had an incredibly successful year.  Led by direct care workers, this organization has had an undeniable impact at the state and national levels, and we’ve become known and embraced as the advocacy voice of direct care workers.

Thanks to direct care worker leaders and allies, DCA hosted a Voices Institute training in Pennsylvania and collaborated with the Wisconsin Board for People with Disabilities and the Wisconsin Direct Caregiver Alliance to host an Advocacy Voices Together training.  Direct care workers had a seat at the table throughout the fight for health care reform and in talks with the Department of Labor to end the exclusion of home care workers from basic labor protections, and they worked with their allies across the country to lead the introduction of the Direct Care Workforce Empowerment Act.  It would take much too long to recap all of our successes this year, so I’ll keep it short and sweet: I couldn’t be more proud of you – the staff, volunteers, supporters and friends of DCA who have made this work possible.

As we welcome another year, we are excited about new challenges and are we are filled with hope. In 2011, the Direct Care Alliance will be moving full steam ahead. Here are some of the things we’re looking forward to: Continue reading »

Now Accepting Applications for 2011 Voices Institute!

Posted by on January 5th, 2011 at 3:36 pm | Comments Off on Now Accepting Applications for 2011 Voices Institute!

The Direct Care Alliance is proud to announce its Third Annual Voices Institute National Leadership Program, a week-long, intensive leadership training for direct care workers. This year’s Voices Institute is at the beautiful DeKoven Retreat Center, on Lake Michigan, in Racine, Wisconsin, from May 8 – 13.

As a graduate of the 2008 Voices Institute, I came away feeling I was ready to change the world, I was ready to take on the issues that direct care workers deal with every day. Issues like low wages, lack of health care coverage through work, adequate training opportunities so that workers possess the necessary skills to do their jobs properly, and respect for workers who are doing noble work by taking care of someone else. I used to think that low wages, no health insurance, and no paid time off, was a “Maine” thing because Maine is a fairly poor state. But after talking with fellow direct care workers from across the country, I learned that these issues are problematic nation-wide. With America’s population growing older and not desiring facility-based care, more direct care workers are going to be needed. Where will they come from if we do not  improve working conditions now? The Voices Institute has helped me be more vocal, helped me feel confident and comfortable talking about my job to policy and law makers who generally have no idea what it is like doing direct care work. I often remind them that someday they may need a direct care worker and that I hope they have a well trained, well paid worker that also has health coverage through their work.

To apply for the 2011 Voices Institute, visit to submit your application online or to download, print and mail your application. Applications must be received by February 14, 2011.  Selected candidates will be announced on March 18, 2011. Continue reading »

Ringing in 2011: Inspiring Yourself and Each Other

Posted by on January 5th, 2011 at 3:35 pm | 3 Comments »

Tina Tilley

A few years ago, I was offered a position at another company.  I had to make a decision whether to stay with my current job or to take the leap and accept the new position I was being offered.  From the outside, it was pretty much a no-brainer.  The new position was offering much better pay, better hours, and better benefits.  As much as I loved my job, I felt like I had to take the new position.

So I made that horrible drive to my work to put in my two weeks notice.  I told my manager, who in turn called her boss, who then asked to speak to me on the phone.  This was one of those moments I can point to in my life where I can honestly say, “That moment changed everything.”

Her words were few, but they had lasting impact.  She told me that she believed in me.  She told me that she knew what a hard worker I was, she saw the love and care I had for our residents, and she believed I could go anywhere I wanted to in the company if I just hung in there for a while.  I thanked her, and we hung up.

I put my two weeks notice in writing and handed it to my manager.  On the drive home, I called her and asked her to hold onto it for a while before she turned it into HR.  The next morning, I called and asked her to rip it up.

The truth is, I was looking for a reason to stay.  I had grown to love my residents like family and my job meant more to me than just the money.  But I needed to know that I was a valued asset to the company.

In the less than two years since those events transpired, I was made Assistant Manager of that particular home, and then this past September I was asked to manage a brand new home my company was opening.  None of which would’ve happened without the positive reinforcement instilled in me by a well-respected supervisor.

Making the transition from regular staff to management has been both eye-opening and exciting.  I now have the opportunity to instill the principles of positive reinforcement into my own staff and to listen to them as they tell me of their past experiences.  Between this and also the many responses I have received from my letter to the editor (which can be found here: ) the general consensus amongst Direct Care Workers is that most feel unappreciated, under-valued, and easily replaceable by their superiors.  Could this be a contributing factor to the outrageous statistic that 11% of those employed in caretaking roles are diagnosed with major depression?  (source:;next )  That is the highest amongst any other career choice!

How sad that in a profession that is all about caring for those who cannot care for themselves, the caretakers feel uncared for.  Whether it be by the State, by the company we work for, by the people we serve and their families, or by our co-workers, it is imperative that we appreciate and understand one another.

As we head into this new year, why don’t we make a New Year’s resolution to stay positive about the extremely important work that we do?

Here are a few things to try to help lighten your load in the coming year:

1)  Laugh –  Laugh a LOT.  In our profession, seeing humor in the strangest of situations is essential to the well-being of our mental health Continue reading »