Last week, personal care worker Helen Hanson interviewed Phil Garner via email about his experience with the DCA’s Personal Care & Support Credential examination. Garner is executive director of Buffalo River Services, an agency that provides services to people with disabilities and their families in Waynesboro, Tennessee. Buffalo River recently administered the credential exam to a select group of direct support professionals.
Why is it so important to have quality caregivers?
As we have worked over the past few years in Tennessee’s Person Centered Organization project, we found one very important barrier to providing great services: There is a gap between what we are teaching our direct support professionals and our expectation that they should perform their duties in the most effective person-centered way. We realized we were far from where we needed to be just to achieve our current goals, let alone the “best practices” we aim for, which include person-centered thinking. Continue reading »
The nurse came into the hospital room, still scanning my mother’s chart. He was radiating the manic cheeriness that nearly every other member of the staff had aimed at her since we got there, a fake friendliness I’d grown to hate. I could practically see the data he’d just processed scrolling behind his eyes: 90 years old, female, atrial fibrillation and atrial flutter, here for a pacemaker.
“Do you mind if I call you Jean?” he bellowed.
“No, not if I can call you by your first name,” she said. “But if you want me to call me by your last name, then I want you to call me by mine.”
It’s nothing short of shameful that we have not yet given home care workers the respect and recognition they deserve by assuring them minimum wage and overtime protections under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). On a consistent basis, I hear from workers who are tired of not received these modest protections, which are afforded to most workers under FLSA. And more and more, I’m hearing from employers and consumers that high turnover rates are damaging our home care system, and that workers deserve these basic labor protections.
Since the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) interpreted the regulation to mean that home care workers are exempt from minimum wage and overtime protections in 1975, an unsuccessful U.S. Supreme Court case and multiple legislative and regulatory efforts have attempted to fix this problem. While it is frustrating that we have not yet won this battle, I am encouraged by the progress that we’re making through our grassroots legislative and regulatory campaigns. Continue reading »
Being elected the chair of the board of directors for the Direct Care Alliance at our annual meeting this year was a great honor and an important step in a leadership journey I’ve been on for a few years. It’s also been an honor to work with my talented fellow board members, including several new Voices Institutes graduates who began serving their terms this year.
As many of you already know, I am the chair of the board of directors for a worker-owned home care cooperative I work for in Wisconsin. A few years ago, I became chair of the Wisconsin Direct Caregiver Alliance, and I am on the board of directors of the Wisconsin Long Term Care Workforce Alliance.
But being the chair of a powerful national organization like the DCA brings new opportunities and responsibilities. My fellow direct care worker board members and I are responsible for representing the voice of the workers. We make up the majority of the board members, and that is an excellent start, but it’s our responsibility to make sure that our voices are heard loud and clear–not just within the DCA but in wider discussions about the work we do. Over the next year, I plan to help the DCA become better recognized as the voice of direct care workers. Continue reading »
The following story was contributed by DCA Executive Director, Leonila Vega
Many of us know of someone who is unemployed, underemployed or fully employed but struggling to make ends meet in these difficult economic times. For the direct care workers who perform one of the hardest and most important jobs in America-providing care and assistance to vulnerable, frail elders and persons living with disabilities-this struggle is magnified due to low wages and little or no access to benefits. With many direct care workers already living on the verge of bankruptcy or in poverty, even the smallest increase in goods such gasoline or groceries can have a tremendous impact on their family’s financial security.
Like American’s in other industries, direct care workers yearn for better lives and have dedicated themselves to back-breaking work in order to achieve it. Although most of these dedicated and compassionate souls work hard and do their best to provide better opportunities for their children, the unfortunate fact is that this dream will remain elusive for many no matter how noble and diligent their efforts might be, due to the current “rules of the game”. The pursuit of the American dream, however, is not lost on direct care workers. They are a resilient and inspiring group of people that deserve our attention and assistance for their selfless contributions to our society.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on August 8th, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Comments Off on Alzheimer’s Foundation of America to offer Free, Confidential Memory Screenings
As the nation’s population increasingly focuses on healthy aging, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) urges individuals concerned about memory problems or who want to check their memory now and for future comparison to take a free screening during its 9th annual National Memory Screening Day on November 15.
Qualified healthcare professionals will provide the confidential screenings and educational materials about memory problems, caregiving and successful aging at community sites from coast to coast. The test consists of a series of simple questions and tasks, and takes about five to ten minutes to administer.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on August 8th, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Comments Off on Care, Committment and Coffee Series Concludes with Norman Thomas of New York
At the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training, DCA communications director, Josh Sabato sat down to speak with direct care worker, Norman Thomas to discuss the most pressing issues facing direct care workers. Mr. Thomas is a direct care worker at Beth Abraham Family Services in Bronx, New York.
The DCA recently teamed up with Beth Abraham and other home care employers in New York to provide a comprehensive training for direct care workers on job safety, emergency preparedness and other skills training to better equip workers with additional tools to care for elders and persons living with disabilities. For more information about how other employers and workers can partner with us to help create a stronger more stable direct care workforce contact the DCA today!
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on August 2nd, 2011 at 10:05 am | Comments Off on New Book Spotlights Indispensable Role of Home Care Aides
A note from the author, Clare L. Stacey, Ph.D.
In The Caring Self, I paint a picture of the important (and often unrecognized) work that home care aides do everyday in this country. I began my research after meeting a disabled woman and her caregiver who lived around the corner from me. The client, a woman with rheumatoid arthritis, relied on her home care aide to bathe her, feed her, take her to appointments and, most importantly, spend time with her when no one else would. Struck by the intimate ties between this aide and her client, as well as the emotional and physical labor of caring for another person, I set out to observe and interview home care aides in California and Ohio.
Janis Mandich Durick founded FromThe Heart Home Companion Service with the expressed desire to fill a much needed void in quality Home Care in Pennsylvania. Several years ago, Janis chose to put her business career on hold to care for her elderly parents. Looking back, Janis now credits caring for her Mom and Dad with jump starting her business to provide quality “at home” care service to seniors and people living with disabilities.
Janis attributes an immense devotion to her business to a great sense of knowing that many people are in desperate need of home care. “My parent’s desire was to remain at home. I could not justify placing them in a nursing facility. With some assistance and prayer, I managed to fulfill that desire.” In today’s fast-paced world, life can be very stressful. People have to work; unfortunately many times some are left with no other recourse but to leave their loved ones in the care of a facility.