Archive for January, 2012

What Caring for Friends Taught Me About Direct Care Workers

Posted by on January 31st, 2012 at 10:41 am | 1 Comment »

Meriam Jawhar

As an advocate for people with disabilities, I’ve always realized that they need certain supports. But becoming a caregiver for two of my friends gave me a whole new awareness of just how much professional caregivers really do, and the huge responsibility they have for another person’s life.

The first time I was put into the role of caregiver was in 2007. A close friend of mine, my compadre and my son’s godfather, had to go in for heart surgery. He was 78 and not very healthy physically, but mentally he was fine. He went into the hospital one way and 48 hours late he came out another: he had dementia as a result of the surgery.

Being the advocate that I am, I got him on a disabled and elderly waiver within six weeks. That provided 35 hours of home health attendant care, but I had to do the weekends and split overnights with some other friends of mine. I did that for eight months.  Continue reading »

An Honest Day’s Work Deserves Fair Pay

Posted by on January 29th, 2012 at 11:48 am | 5 Comments »

A home care workers explains why we need to enact the proposed home care rule

Mohan Varghese

It is only just to give home health care workers the basic rights that are guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act.  If you look at any other job that’s non-salaried, they have those rights. If you work at a fast food place flipping burgers, you’re getting all those requirements met, but if you are providing home care you don’t.

I have worked three-plus years at a nursing home as a certified nurse aide and three years as a home health aide caring for a spinal cord injury patient. I do all the things in home care that I did in the nursing home and more. Some of the extras are simple tasks like cleaning and cooking. Others are complex medical tasks that were done by licensed nurses in the nursing home, like urinary catheterization and administration of shots and other medications. Continue reading »

What We Know About Each Other

Posted by on January 24th, 2012 at 10:39 am | Comments Off on What We Know About Each Other

David Moreau

Toby won’t go in the auditorium

for the noonday concert

so Ellie takes Donnie and Melinda

while Toby and I wait in the hallway.

When you’re ready, I tell him,

as calmly as I can because I

really want to hear the Schubert concerto.

Toby sits cross-legged on the floor,

rocking contentedly

and we hear the piano softly

on the other side of the wall.  Continue reading »

Home Care Workers Talk About the Proposed Rule

Posted by on January 24th, 2012 at 10:27 am | 5 Comments »

We asked some of our home care worker members and allies how they felt about the proposed rule to extend Fair Labor Standards Act protections to home care workers. Here’s what they said:

Carolyn Gay

Carolyn Gay, CNA and home care worker

I have been a CNA since 1992, working in private duty with some of the most wonderful patients and families. I am on Social Security now, but I continue to work as a CNA to supplement my income and because I love my patients.

As a CNA, I am a trained professional. I am required by law to be certified and to maintain my skills. I incur the expenses for that training, yet I do not get paid for my travel time, nor am I assured minimum wage. If I worked more than 40 hours a week, I would not get time and a half for that extra time.

As the support system for our patients, their families, the RNs and the doctors, we have earned the right to a living wage. Fast food workers are guaranteed minimum wage and overtime pay, but we caregivers are not. Continue reading »

Celebrating Dr. King’s Legacy

Posted by on January 17th, 2012 at 10:42 am | Comments Off on Celebrating Dr. King’s Legacy

As Martin Luther King. Jr. Day approached, we here at the Direct Care Alliance found ourselves reflecting on Dr. King’s influence on our lives and work and wondering what he would think about today’s campaign for better jobs for direct care workers. We asked some of our current and past board members to share their thoughts about that.

Here’s what they had to say:

Economic justice for today’s version of “the help”

Almost 50 years ago, when Dr. King went to the Washington Mall with hundreds of thousands of people, there were thousands of domestic workers in the crowd. The domestic worker of the 1950s and ‘60s could be compared to the home care worker of today. They did the cooking and cleaning. They cared for the babies. They cared for the owners of the house when they became sick. And most of them—about 99 percent of them in the South—were African American.

These workers were so closely involved with the lives of the families they worked for that they weren’t even called workers. They were called “the help.” They didn’t get a salary. They just took whatever the owner of the house decided they deserved for the time they worked—and they worked from sunup to sundown. That same way of thinking led to the so-called “companionship exemption” that denies us home care workers the right to Fair Labor Standards Act protections.

Continue reading »

Comment Update: Early Feedback on DOL’s Proposed Home Care Rule

Posted by on January 17th, 2012 at 10:38 am | Comments Off on Comment Update: Early Feedback on DOL’s Proposed Home Care Rule

The comments on the Department of Labor’s proposed rule to extend Fair Labor Standards Act protection to home care workers are surging in faster than DOL staff can post them.

Negative feedback seems to be in the majority at the moment, but there are plenty of eloquent comments from supporters of the proposed rule. We’ve copied a few of them below in hopes that they’ll inspire you to send in your comment, if you haven’t already.

To see more of the comments that posted so far, go to the comments page, click on “View Docket Folder,” check “public submission,” and click on a submitter’s name or a blue HTML button.

To submit your own comment, click on one of the blue “comment due” links if you’re already on the comment page. Or go to the Take Action box on our Respect for Home Care Workers page and download our comment submission guidelines.

Dear Secretary Solis,

Many of my friends and family depend on home care workers to help them live at home. I support the extension of minimum wage and overtime protections provided by the Fair Labor Standards Act to all home care workers. These workers take care of the most important people in their employers’ lives. I know that when workers are treated well they have a better relationship with their employers, which results in better quality care. Thank you for your leadership in moving this proposal forward.


Ariana Jostad-Laswell Continue reading »

New DCA Resources Make It Easy to Comment on Proposed Rule

Posted by on January 10th, 2012 at 1:50 pm | 1 Comment »

By proposing to grant home care workers basic labor rights, the Department of Labor (DOL) has taken an important step to correct the longstanding injustice done to these crucial workers. Now it’s up to us to make sure that happens, by registering our support for DOL’s proposed rule to extend Fair Labor Standards Act protections to home care workers.

The comments DOL receives will be a major factor in its decision whether or not to enact the proposed rule, so it’s important that they hear from as many supporters as possible. To help you submit your comment, DCA has prepared new resources that guide you through process step by step.

Please visit the Take Action box on our Respect for Home Care Workers page and add your voice to the growing chorus. Tell DOL to do the right thing for home care workers and the people who rely on them!

The public comment period ends on February 27.

Why Direct Care Workers Must Be Treated as Professionals

Posted by on January 9th, 2012 at 11:59 pm | 4 Comments »

Georgia P. Ameia Yen-Patton

I’ve been a long-term care nurse for over 25 years, most recently as a gerontological nurse practitioner. I started out as a nursing assistant, but it wasn’t until I went to graduate school in 2006 that I realized how many people, including us long-term care nurses, fail to give direct care workers the respect and professional recognition they deserve.

My PhD thesis is on the reciprocal ethical caring values that characterize long-time nursing assistants. Part of my research was on the relationships between nursing assistants and the nurses who manage them, so I talked to about a thousand nurses and nursing assistants at nursing homes in southeastern Massachusetts. (Stay tuned to this blog for more on my thesis, which I’ll write about as soon as it’s been cleared for publication.) Over and over, I heard the nurses say of the nursing assistants: “They do this because they can’t do anything else.”  Continue reading »

DCA to Build on Momentum in 2012

Posted by on January 3rd, 2012 at 1:41 pm | 2 Comments »

DCA Board Chair Tracy Dudzinski

Dear Friends,

Thanks to the hard work of our direct care worker leaders and allies, we made a lot of progress in 2011, and there are many opportunities for continued success in 2012.

As DCA’s board chair, I am incredibly proud of the leadership and vision of DCA’s executive director, Leonila Vega, as well as DCA’s staff, members, volunteers, and allies. 2011 was a year of many milestones for the direct care workforce and the Direct Care Alliance, and I’d like to share some of the highlights with you. They only scratch the surface of what we accomplished in 2011, but they’re proof that our movement is growing stronger and direct care workers’ voices are being heard. I also want to tell you about some of the things we have planned for 2012.

The most exciting developments in 2011 were the responses we got from both the U.S. Department of Labor and Congress to the persistent advocacy of DCA and its allies to extend basic labor protections to home care workers. Just last month, DOL proposed a rule that would extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers. And earlier last year, the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act was introduced by Senator Casey (PA) in the Senate and Representative Sánchez (CA) in the House. Continue reading »