Archive for March, 2011

Dame Elizabeth Taylor: Fierce Health Care Activist

Posted by on March 29th, 2011 at 9:11 am | Comments Off on Dame Elizabeth Taylor: Fierce Health Care Activist

Elizabeth Taylor is remembered for amazing feats of womanhood, leadership and beauty.  Her $1 million salary for the 1963 movie Cleopatra, made her a pioneer for future actresses such as Angelina Jolie, Renee Zellweger and Julia Roberts who today, command ten to fifteen times that amount.  Elizabeth Taylor’s extraordinary talents transcended the big screen by sharing with the public her prodigious sex appeal, and daring to scandalize moral expectations for women in her time by choosing whom to marry and when.  Elizabeth developed a women’s perfume empire, that at the time of her death, had made over 200 million dollars in profit.

More impressive than these achievements, was Dame Elizabeth Taylor’s enduring contribution as a fierce health care advocate.  At a time when friends close to her were dying and America was either ignorant, ashamed or prejudiced toward individuals suffering from HIV or AIDS, she lifted the veil and brought the entire country together to pay attention while she demonstrated compassion, enlightenment, and generosity to those affected by HIV. Taylor testified, gave speeches and set up a research foundation.   Ms. Taylor’s compassion and love drove her to channel her prodigious energies into educating the country on issues related to HIV.  She will always be remembered for that, and thankfully her contribution lives on through her charitable work and foundation (AMFAR).

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My Path to Becoming an Advocate

Posted by on March 25th, 2011 at 9:41 pm | 3 Comments »

3:32 AM May 24, 1992: Do you know where you were?  I had just put the truck in “park” in the driveway of my childhood home where I was returning to help my ailing father and working mother get my dad’s healthcare regime settled.  All week I packed and said goodbye to friends in the suburb of Denver where I lived, telling them I would return by the time the aspens turned gold.  But the moment I pulled into the driveway in the dark dewy hours before dawn, I somehow knew I was not going to leave at the end of summer or even at the end of the year.

Dr. Phil says you have 10 defining moments and 7 critical choices in your lifetime. I had encountered a few of both prior to this moment, but none had affected my life so greatly as the critical choice of returning home and the defining moment of resignation when I turned the key to off and began a journey that led me to my voice for seniors, who often no longer have a voice of their own.  That journey led me to my voice for in-home care workers, who merely do not know they have a voice–yet.

The following video is a portion of my story.  When you’ve finished watching, tell me yours.

Kelli Davidson
Oklahoma City, OK

Woo-Hoo, Our Co-Op Toolkit is Finished! Or Is This Just the Beginning?

Posted by on March 21st, 2011 at 3:28 pm | 5 Comments »

Tracy Dudzinski

When I was approached to write a toolkit about starting a worker-owned home care cooperative, I wasn’t sure where to start.  But if you have read some of my previous blog posts, you know I say that you can’t grow as a person if you don’t step out of your comfort zone.

I have to say that it was an intimidating project, but the more I thought about it the more excited I got.  Working with the DCA’s communications advisor on this toolkit has allowed me to share one of the most empowering experiences of my life. I hope we will empower other people to experience the same thing.

I’ve been part of a worker-owned home care co-op in Wisconsin for eight years, on the board for seven, and the board chair for three. Being a worker-owner has many advantages – having a voice, being heard, and owning part of a business, which includes sharing in the profits at the end of the year. The skills I have learned and the experiences I’ve had there have broadened my horizons in all kinds of directions.

Co-ops are also a good way to create stable jobs and quality care for rural communities like mine. DCA Executive Director Leonila Vega says: “Co-ops are a good way to address the shortage of qualified home care providers in rural America, not to mention the long distances and lack of contact with coworkers that makes too many rural home care workers feel isolated and alone. We hope this toolkit will help bring providers together around this model to improve access to health care for rural residents.”

I would love to see at least one worker owned home care co-op in every state of the union.  If you think you might be interested in belonging to one, check out our toolkit. It lays out what’s involved in starting and operating a home care co-op and links you to the websites, experts, forms, and other resources you’ll need. And since I’m a direct care worker just like you, it’s written in down-to-earth language.

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Humble Heroes: Caring and Supporting Beyond the Care Plan

Posted by on March 21st, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Comments Off on Humble Heroes: Caring and Supporting Beyond the Care Plan

Leonila Vega

Meeting with direct care workers whether they work in nursing homes, assisted living or providing care and supports to elders and people living with disabilities in their homes, is both humbling and profoundly inspiring.  The stories I hear or moments I witness are examples of exemplary heroism and personal sacrifice.  These are the kind of stories that refuel your faith in people today, that there are those who – without regard to money, comfort or even means – will take extraordinary steps to help others in need,  whether they be families members or not.  Forty-two personal care assistants received PCA of the Year Award and nine others received outstanding PCA awards.

Recently, I met such humble heroes at the 2011 In-Home Care Workers Have Heart Conference in Oklahoma.   These “humble heroes” possess the qualities I want in a person caring for me, when I need home care as I know some day I will.  I am certain you too want this very type of home care worker to be there for you.   Read more and see for yourself what it means to receive good care, care beyond the plan of care, those essential documents put together by nurses, doctors and others to ensure elders and people living with disabilities have the care they need:

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Maine Bill Seeks to Improve Direct Care Jobs

Posted by on March 14th, 2011 at 8:41 pm | 2 Comments »
This is a guest post from Tammy Dawson, a direct support professional from Bangor, Maine, and a member of DCA – Maine.

If you are a direct care worker in the state of Maine, odds are you are not aware of all of the opportunities available to you. A bill sponsored by Matthew Peterson and heartily encouraged by our own Helen Hanson and Roy Gedat would change that!

LD 818: A resolve that directs the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor to develop and to provide information about professional and career development, training and related credentialing and certification to all professional direct care and personal support workers.

Making Strides in Philadelphia

Posted by on March 14th, 2011 at 9:27 am | 2 Comments »

This is a guest post by Noel Mendez of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association

from left: Chris Langston, Margaret Bernger, Brenda Natchway and Noel Mendez

The Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association continued to make strides by hosting another successful membership meeting and participating in the Long Term Quality Alliance annual meeting.  On Friday 25, Brenda Nachtway, National Membership Director for the Direct Care Alliance, accompanied PADCWA members Peg Ankney, Margaret Beringer and myself to Washington, DC, where we attended the Inaugural Annual Meeting of the Long-Term Quality Alliance.  This event was held at the National Press Club where we met with Leonila Vega, Executive Director of the DCA.  Throughout the day we listened to industry and government leaders talk about issues that affect direct care workers and those in our care.

Mary Naylor of the University of Pennsylvania gave the welcome address and talked  about quality measurement, tangible improvements in care, and advancing policies that lead to improved care, among other important issues.  Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, focused on government policy, budgetary provisions and outlined features of the CLASS Act.  Topics covered by other speakers included the Affordable Care Act, dual eligibles, quality measurement, outreach and public awareness.

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