Archive for February, 2012

DCA/NELP Editorial Urges Support for Home Care Workers

Posted by on February 27th, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Comments Off on DCA/NELP Editorial Urges Support for Home Care Workers

The Hill's Congress Blog logo“Thanks to the aging baby boomers and our strong preference for home care over institutional care, home care work is one of the few job categories that’s sure to grow over the next few years. We can do nothing to improve those jobs and swell the ranks of the working poor, forcing hundreds of thousands more people to turn to public assistance despite working 40 hours or more a week. Or we can strengthen our middle class by ensuring that home care jobs provide fair wages and basic labor protections.” So says an editorial by National Employment Law Project Executive Director Christine Owens and DCA Director of Policy and Planning David Ward that was published today in The Hill’s Congress Blog.

In Care Work in America: Expected but not respected, Owens and Ward debunk the myths that are being spread by the for-profit national home care corporations that are leading the fight against the U.S. Department of Labor’s proposed home care rule, which would extend Fair Labor Standards Act protections to most home care workers. Ward and Owens also urge readers to submit comments in favor of the rule to the Department of Labor.

“Our economy is at a crossroads, and the proposed rule is an important step in the right direction,” they conclude.

A Daughter’s Plea for More CNAs in Nursing Homes

Posted by on February 27th, 2012 at 8:52 pm | 4 Comments »

Sheila Caldwell

In the fall of 2002, my mother, who has muscular dystrophy, lost the use of her legs. Up to then, she had been taking care of herself and my father, but now she couldn’t do that any more. I had been taking an adult education course in accounting, but I quit to take care of her at home.

Here in Maine you can get paid for caring for a family member, so I worked at a home care agency, but my mother was my only client. I did not hesitate to care for her because she had taken care of me and always made sure I had what I needed when I was growing up. It felt good to able to take care of her. It has not been easy at times, but I would not change anything. I feel that I have been a good daughter.

Last year, my mother fell. After she got out of the hospital and rehab facility, she needed more care than I could give her. I put her in a nursing home about 40 minutes from my house. I couldn’t care for her now if I wanted to: I’m not young any more, and I have a bad back and arthritis in my hands. But seeing her in the nursing home can be much harder on me emotionally than taking care of her ever was. Continue reading »

Why I Had to Quit the Home Care Career that I Loved

Posted by on February 21st, 2012 at 9:26 am | 5 Comments »
Helen Hanson (L) at her CNA graduation.

I have worked as a caregiver since 2003. The work has been basically the same all these years, but the title keeps changing.

I started out at a home care agency, first as a homemaker and then as a personal support specialist. Next I provided home care to a woman with quadriplegia who directs her own care. I am currently working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA) in a skilled nursing facility, because the work is steadier and the benefits are much better, but if all else were equal I’d go back to home care in a heartbeat.

My experience has made it crystal clear to me why we need to grant home care workers basic labor protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Nearly everyone who needs help with daily activities would rather get it at home than in an institution, right? So why are we making it so hard for home care workers to make a living?  Continue reading »

In Their Own Words: CNAs Discuss Their Work in New Journal

Posted by on February 21st, 2012 at 9:24 am | 4 Comments »

The current issue of Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, a new academic journal from Johns Hopkins Press, is built around personal reflections about CNA work from DCA Board Chair Tracy Dudzinski and nine other nursing assistants.

The third and last in a year-long series that also featured testimonials from patients and physicians, the issue concludes its section on nursing assistant work with two scholarly commentaries on the testimonials.

The nursing assistant stories cover a broad range of concerns, experiences, observations, and sensibilities, from Tracy’s testimonial, which was adapted from a speech she delivered at an Institute of Medicine symposium, to a letter from retired nursing assistant Margaret Fletcher, who offered life lessons she has gleaned over the years. Genevieve (Jeni) Gipson of the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants assisted the editors in putting the symposium together.  Continue reading »

Why Minimum Wage and Overtime for Home Care Workers Helps All of Us

Posted by on February 13th, 2012 at 9:16 pm | 6 Comments »

As the executive director of Alpha One, Maine’s Center for Independent Living, and a longtime advocate for people with a disability, I have experienced direct care work as an employer and an advocate. Home care workers play a vital role in allowing people to remain independent, in their own homes, and active in their communities, and they deserve the basic labor protections guaranteed by the Fair Labor Standards Act.

All of us who live with a disability want to go on with our lives as we see fit to the greatest extent possible. While we may solicit support from families and friends, we often need professional direct care workers to assist us as well. When we enlist their services, we expect the highest quality possible, and we owe them something in return. Continue reading »

My Group Home Away from Home

Posted by on February 13th, 2012 at 9:13 pm | 2 Comments »

Dorcas Sumba

I came to this country in 2000 from Nairobi, Kenya, with my then-husband, who went to graduate school at the University of Arizona. I’ve been here in Tucson ever since.

I’ve worked at the same place ever since I arrived, too. It’s a small group home for people with developmental disabilities. I applied for a job there when I first got here because some people we met here who were also from Kenya said it was a good place to work. I started as a direct care worker, and after six years I was promoted to assistant house manager. I am also the lead staff and medical advocate for the home. I still do direct care work, but now I also supervise other direct care workers part of the time. Continue reading »

DCA Members, Allies Comment on Proposed Rule

Posted by on February 7th, 2012 at 1:55 am | Comments Off on DCA Members, Allies Comment on Proposed Rule

Now that we’re about two-thirds of the way through the public comment period on the proposed rule to extend Fair Labor Standards Act protections to home care workers, the comments are beginning to give a sense of the range and sheer number of home care stakeholders who support the rule–and the depth of their passion about this issue.

Here’s a sampling of the inspirational comments submitted so far by DCA members and allies. If you’ve already submitted yours, thank you for helping support this important cause. If you haven’t yet found the time, please download our comment submission guidelines and send yours in soon.

Judy Clinco

Judy Clinco, home care agency owner

As the owner of a 30-year-old home care company that employees Direct Care Workers, I am fully supportive of this workforce being protected by the Fair Wage Labor Law. Unless this workforce is guaranteed minimum hourly wage and over time it will be impossible to recruit compassionate individuals who will work long term in this sector. Our aging society not only needs trained, compassionate individuals, but the continuity of having there services and care be provided by the same caregiver.

Continue reading »

Making the Invisible Visible

Posted by on February 7th, 2012 at 1:45 am | 20 Comments »

Leonila Vega

Several years ago, my colleague Roy Gedat and I decided to start what is now this blog our e-newsletter, The Direct Care News. We saw a large void, in that there was no news being published by workers themselves about their work and barriers. We wanted the silenced voices of direct care workers to come through in our reports, commentary, and poetry.

In other words, we didn’t want a glossy marketing tool packed with expert opinions. We wanted this “invisible” workforce to become visible, speaking directly to us in their own voices, telling us about their day-to-day lives and concerns, giving us a feel for the special people they are.  Continue reading »