Archive for September, 2011

Why We Home Care Aides Should Get Overtime Pay

Posted by on September 26th, 2011 at 10:53 pm | 9 Comments »

Ja’Ray Gamble

I believe that we home care workers should get overtime pay. I work a lot of overtime, but I do not get paid for it.

Caregiving is my calling here on earth. I’m a giver. I love this work, and I am absolutely in love with my company: They’ve helped me a lot. That’s my family. But they can’t afford to pay me overtime when they don’t get reimbursed for overtime pay by the government. Janis Durick (owner of From the Heart  Companion Services, the agency I work for) is unable to authorize much overtime for her workers due to the lack of the “helping hand” of government reimbursements. If  she were able to provide her workers with overtime, she would do so in a heartbeat.  She has such a great love for all of us. She’s simply doing what she is able to, and so am I.

I first heard about being a direct care worker through my mother. She had worked with From The Heart for almost three years until she lost her client, who was very special to her. She is still grieving, but she plans to go back to work soon. Continue reading »

How to Put More Jobs in the American Jobs Act

Posted by on September 26th, 2011 at 10:51 pm | 1 Comment »

American Jobs Act logo with white space to rightRania Antonopoulos is a senior scholar and director of the Gender Equality and the Economy program at the Levy Institute. She wrote this post with the assistance of her colleague Michael Stephens, senior editor at the Levy Economics Institute.

President Obama’s recently proposed American Jobs Act would put people to work building and repairing the nation’s roads, bridges, and schools. This is all laudable, if fairly inadequate ($50 billion for transportation infrastructure and half that for school infrastructure) given both the extent of our dilapidated infrastructure and the size of the employment hole. But a job creation idea you won’t find in the AJA would produce double the employment boost of those physical infrastructure projects. If we invest in putting people to work delivering social care services—shoring up our crumbling social infrastructure by adding jobs in professions like direct care—we can begin to crawl our way back to full employment, while providing vitally needed services and doing more to help those who are least able to weather the current non-recovery recovery.  Continue reading »

Talking to Senator Collins about the Companionship Exemption

Posted by on September 20th, 2011 at 12:37 am | 3 Comments »

A simple phone call can help educate your senator about the needs of direct care workers—and he or she may be more receptive than you might expect, as this report from Voices Institute graduate Ted Rippy demonstrates.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine

Senator Collins

Late last month, I had the opportunity to talk to Maine’s Senator Susan M. Collins about the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act. The conversation was very relaxed and took place over the phone. She was a very gracious lady, so talking to her just felt like talking to another human being.

Senator Collins asked why minimum wage and overtime protections weren’t already in place for home care workers. I explained that in 1974 the Fair Labor Standards Act companionship exemption was removed from domestic workers like chauffeurs, butlers, cooks, gardeners, maids, and nannies, but not from home care workers because, back then, home care was a simple thing, more like asking a neighbor to check in on Mom or Dad than the skilled profession it is today. Senator Collins responded by saying that home care aides have become more professional over the years. Continue reading »

Minnesota Personal Care Assistants Face 20% Pay Cut

Posted by on September 20th, 2011 at 12:36 am | 7 Comments »

Tim Plant

We Minnesotans used to be full of pride for our prudent government and our tradition of fairness and equality for all citizens. Minnesota is the home state of “Happy Warrior” Hubert Humphrey, a former vice president of the United States and a lifelong champion of civil rights.  But our proud state is becoming a national embarrassment, and some of our personal care assistants are about to pay a heavy price for our political dysfunction.

Most of you have probably heard about our failure to pass a state budget by the due date of June 30, which led to a state government shutdown for several weeks earlier this summer. When Governor Mark Dayton reconvened the legislature for a special session, it was conducted behind closed doors. The secretly approved budget that finally emerged includes dramatically fewer resources to help our most vulnerable citizens because the “no tax increase for millionaires’’ philosophy ruled the day. Continue reading »

PA Caregivers Invited to Free Training, Board Meet

Posted by on September 16th, 2011 at 3:00 pm | 1 Comment »

PA Direct Care Worker Association logoThe Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association invites all interested direct care workers in Pennsylvania to two free training sessions and a PaDCWA board meeting, to be held at Arden Courts in Allentown on October 27.

The first training will be on the subject of caregiver burnout. It will be conducted during a working lunch (provided at no charge) between 12 and 1 p.m. After the board meeting, which will take place from 1 to 3, a second training will be held on responding to difficult behaviors caused by Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. Human Resources Director Amanda Scholl of Home Instead Senior Care will conduct both sessions.

Certificates will be awarded on completion of training.

Download flyer for more information.

PA Home Care Workers Address Sympathetic Politician

Posted by on September 12th, 2011 at 8:50 pm | 3 Comments »

Rep. Murphy and Janis Durick

Home care workers had the full attention of Representative Tim Murphy on September 2, at a meeting hosted by DCA and From the Heart Companion Services in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

“I was very pleased that Representative Murphy came and listened to us. I really was,” says From the Heart owner Janis Durick. “He already had an attentive ear and was willing to help us with some of the things that we needed, but I figure the comments from all the direct care workers made him that much more open to what we do. Each one is different, and their clients are different.” Continue reading »

Why Paid Sick Leave is Good for Everybody’s Health

Posted by on September 12th, 2011 at 8:49 pm | 1 Comment »

This compelling video from Family Values at Work makes it clear why paid sick leave is a public health issue. Playing off the movie Contagion, it features five low-wage workers, who explain how they endanger not just their own health but the health of everyone they encounter when they go to work sick. Yet they must work when they’re ill, since they don’t have sick leave and can’t afford to take unpaid time.

The video features foodservice workers and school bus drivers, but it also applies to the many direct care workers who do not get paid sick days. Simply staying home is rarely an option for these low-paid workers, yet they risk passing on their germs to the people they assist, who may be frail and particularly vulnerable to infection.

Visit the Family Values at Work website to learn more about how to join the fight for paid sick leave.

Leonila Vega Joins LTQA Board

Posted by on September 6th, 2011 at 11:18 am | 2 Comments »

DCA Executive Director Leonila Vega has accepted a seat on the board of directors of the Long-Term Quality Alliance, a broad-based group of experts that work together to improve the care quality and the quality of life for people receiving long-term services and supports. LTQA members represent consumers and family caregivers, providers, health service and researchers, evaluators and quality experts, private and public purchasers of care, foundations, think tanks, and agencies of the federal government that oversee aging issues and health care quality issues.

“LTQA is pleased to welcome the Direct Care Alliance to the board of directors, represented by Leonila Vega,” says LTQA Executive Director Doug Pace. “Direct care workers play a crucial role in the delivery of long-term services and supports as we all strive to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of care and quality of life of those who so desperately need our help.” Continue reading »

Let’s Not Let Home Instead Shut Down a Path to Justice

Posted by on September 6th, 2011 at 10:58 am | 2 Comments »

Helen Hanson

It is extremely troubling that Home Instead, a national chain of home care franchises, wants to take the power away from the U.S. Secretary of Labor to undo the companionship exemption that home care workers unjustly find themselves under. This makes absolutely no sense. Who should make the rules pertaining to the home care labor force if not the Department of Labor?

Home care workers are not the neighbor next door, checking in on Grandma or Grandpa to make sure things are okay. They are, for the most part, trained professionals whose specialized skills and knowledge allow them to care for other human beings with empathy and compassion. Most home care workers are truly caring individuals who work hard to ensure that elders and younger people with disabilities can remain home and as independent as possible. What does it say about the work our society values when chauffeurs and butlers are covered under minimum wage and overtime protections, but the home care workforce is not? Continue reading »

A Way for New Yorkers to Celebrate Labor Day

Posted by on September 5th, 2011 at 9:55 am | Comments Off on A Way for New Yorkers to Celebrate Labor Day

Leonila Vega

Labor Day is a time to celebrate American workers, and I would like to thank the members of Congress that have demonstrated their commitment to working class Americans by co-sponsoring the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act of 2011.

This legislation would extend federal minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers and create other initiatives to improve direct care jobs. Turnover for direct care workers in New York is as high as 47%. This is unacceptable and unsustainable for our long-term care system. Continue reading »