Archive for October, 2011

Experiencing CNA Work as Another Form of Customer Service

Posted by on October 28th, 2011 at 9:51 pm | 3 Comments »

When she lost her job at a call center, Sharon Baumgartner discovered CNA work—and found that her customer service experience came in very handy.

Sharon Baumgartner

I work as a CNA (Patient Care Technician II) in the ICU department of Florida Hospital/Waterman in Tavares, Florida. The joy of my work—and what keeps me motivated—is seeing very, very ill patients get better day-by-day. That just never ceases to amaze me to this day. What a great physician we have!

Eventually, those who improve are transferred to other progressive departments in the hospital. After all, healing the ill is our purpose. Unfortunately, of course, there are also patients who do not improve. With all life comes death: I know that. But as strong as I think I am, I can’t deny that losing a patient is heart-wrenching. All I can do when someone passes away is be there with the family and staff in any way I can.

Before I started my career in direct care, I spent many years in the legal field and working with people in various situations and on many levels, but most recently I had worked as a customer service representative in two call centers, the last being an inbound-call center contracted by Sprint where I live in Eustis, Florida. All the jobs I’ve had since I was 16 taught me something about how to deal with people, from my very first job at 7-Eleven to the wonderful life training I got while working at Publix for five years toe being the Town Clerk/Supervisor of Elections for Windermere. And all that experience turned out to be very useful when I switched to this field.  Continue reading »

Demonizing Caregivers No Way to Reduce Elder Abuse, says DCA Issue Brief

Posted by on October 25th, 2011 at 3:37 am | 3 Comments »

“The personal, often intimate nature of caregiving relationships can make it difficult to define, detect, and deter the abuse of elders and people with disabilities by the caregivers they rely on. Nonetheless, there are a number of steps that employers and policymakers can take to support good care and prevent abuse,” says No Excuse for Abuse, the ninth in a series of Direct Care Alliance policy briefs.

Arguing that we cannot reduce abuse until we understand its root causes, the nine-page issue brief looks at what we know—and what we don’t know—about how and why care recipients get abused by their caregivers. Author Elise Nakhnikian notes that the great majority of abuse appears to be committed not by paid professionals but by informal caregivers, usually close family members, and that it is often caused by “complex and stressful dynamics between caregiver and care recipient, with one party’s actions and attitudes affecting the other and creating a ‘reactive pattern or feedback loop.’”

Simply blaming and punishing those who abuse will not solve the problem, she writes. In fact, demonizing caregivers can make things worse, pushing the issue even further underground and tarnishing the reputation of an honorable profession. Continue reading »

Conference Inspires and Informs Florida Caregivers

Posted by on October 25th, 2011 at 3:01 am | 1 Comment »
FPACG 2011 conference attendees

Conference attendees with door prizes

The 16th annual Florida Professional Association of Care Givers (FPACG) conference, which was co-sponsored this year by DCA, was inspirational from the start. After a welcome and invocation by CNA/HHA Rita Andrews and CNA/HHA Nancy Strebel, the Air Force junior ROTC from Lake Brantley High School presented the colors. What a thing that was to witness! Next on the agenda was the presentation of awards by FPACG President Emeritus and Director of Education Terry Bucher to FPACG’s Career Care Giver of the Year and its two Care Givers of the Year. This was the first time in the history of the association that the award was given to two people in one year. Continue reading »

Working for Less than Minimum Wage

Posted by on October 18th, 2011 at 9:02 am | 6 Comments »

Clara Glenn

I’ve been doing home care work for 30-some years, and I love it. I tell everybody I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You have to have a heart to do this work. You can’t just do it for no reason. You have to be dedicated. I always put God first in my life, and that carries me through.

About 15 years ago, I worked for a home care agency that paid less than minimum wage. The minimum was $5.15 at the time, and we were making $4.90. I think that was a reason a lot of the girls left. We stayed as long as we could and then we went on to other places.

I stayed because of the clients. I liked them and they liked me. We made our own little family, and that meant more to me than the money. As long as they were getting good care, that was really what mattered to me. Even now, some of their grandchildren send me Christmas cards and birthday cards and when they get married they call me up. They were like family, and I knew they needed help. Continue reading »

Why We Stopped Offering Health Insurance to Our Home Care Workers

Posted by on October 18th, 2011 at 9:00 am | 2 Comments »

Tracy Dudzinski

Some things just don’t make sense.

As many of you know, I am an employee-owner of a supportive home care agency in Wisconsin that is a worker-owned cooperative. I chair the board of directors, which recently had to make a very difficult decision: We had to stop offering health insurance coverage to our employees.

I was on the insurance so I had to excuse myself from the board’s discussions, but from what I heard afterward, it was a difficult decision for the board to make. One of the reasons the cooperative was founded was to offer health insurance to its members. It was hard for the board members to let go of that goal, but we just couldn’t afford not to.

The cheapest plan we could find was too expensive—for us and for our employees.  Continue reading »

Stumping for the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act

Posted by on October 11th, 2011 at 9:29 am | 1 Comment »

Joan Leah

When I returned home after attending this year’s Voices Institute, I made a commitment to myself. I committed to not waste the investment made in me by DCA; the confidence placed in me by my association, the Florida Professional Association of Care Givers, when they recommended me for the training; or the commitment I made to my peers during my time at the VI. I vowed to advocate for the changes our long-term care system so desperately needs, starting with the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act.

I hope hearing about my journey to carry that message to the Hill will inspire you, and perhaps arm you with tips you can use to make your own journey. The main one is: DON’T GIVE UP! Getting through to your legislators takes work and persistence, but you can find many helpful tools on the DCA website, and DCA staff and Voices Institute alumni are here to help too.  Continue reading »

DCA, Allies Host Senate Briefing on the Companionship Exemption

Posted by on October 11th, 2011 at 1:56 am | 4 Comments »

Last Thursday, direct care workers and their allies met with Senate staffers to educate them about the companionship exemption and the negative impact that it is having on home- and community-based services. The companionship exemption exempts home care workers from minimum wage and overtime protections under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Twenty-one states currently offer basic labor protections to home care workers, but workers in the other 29 are without protection unless the federal law is changed. The Senate staff in attendance heard from direct care workers, an employer, and health and labor experts about why it’s important for home care workers to be covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act. Continue reading »

Proposed Bill Would Deny Basic Rights to Home Care Workers

Posted by on October 4th, 2011 at 8:27 am | 4 Comments »

Download the DCA press release.

H.R. 3066, a bill proposed by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), would destabilize a crucial workforce by ensuring that home care workers continue to be denied minimum wage and overtime protections under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).

Personal and home care aides constitute one of the ten fastest-growing employment categories in the nation. They provide a critical service to frail elders and other people with disabilities, yet they average less than $10 an hour and typically receive few or no benefits such as health insurance or paid time off. Last year, their wages actually declined slightly from the year before. These conditions contribute to the profession’s high turnover and job vacancy rates, which threaten the continuity of care that is key to care quality. Continue reading »

Wisconsin Honors Exceptional Direct Care Workers and Employers

Posted by on October 4th, 2011 at 8:23 am | 1 Comment »

Tracy Dudzinski

Every year here in Wisconsin we honor four direct care workers, one supervisor of direct care workers, and one administrator in long term care. I was honored to present the awards last week to my fellow direct care workers.

I got to visit with most of the winners before the presentation, which was at a luncheon at the Wisconsin Personal Services Association conference. Vivian Havens has been a direct care worker for 45 years, 25 of which have been for her current employer. She is 80 years old. I call that dedication. Continue reading »