Archive for October, 2012

Why Nursing Homes Need More of Us CNAs

Posted by on October 30th, 2012 at 8:56 am | 3 Comments »

Karla Lawrence

I’m a CNA at a nursing home in the Bronx, where I work the night shift. I’ve been working here for 12 years, and for eight years before that I did home care. I love being a caregiver, but I wish we had more staff so I could provide more person-centered care without having to stay late every morning.

There are 40 residents on my unit. Every night, I take care of half of them while another CNA is assigned to the other half. When the other aide is on break, I’m responsible for all 40 at once: If one of her residents needs something, I take care of it.

The residents are asleep most of the time at night, but they still need a lot. We have to brush all their teeth and give them all bed baths. We have to change their incontinence briefs at night, twice per person. A lot of them are young, and they don’t go to sleep early. And the older people sometimes need to get up a lot to go to the bathroom. Sometimes you are going back and forth answering the bell all night because someone needs a urinal, needs to go to the bathroom, needs a drink of water.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers Have Much at Stake in Health Care Debate

Posted by on October 30th, 2012 at 1:43 am | 1 Comment »

Jessica Brill Ortiz

The Affordable Care Act (also known as the ACA, or Obamacare) has gained a great deal of attention recently, as President Barack Obama is committed to upholding the ACA and Governor Mitt Romney is committed to repealing it. As we reported earlier, the ACA will benefit hundreds of thousands of direct care workers by taking important steps to make health insurance affordable and accessible.

Over a million of our nation’s more than 4 million direct care workers are uninsured, making them nearly twice as likely as the average American to be without health insurance. Yet direct care workers need health care more than the average American, not less. They have one of the highest rates of on-the-job injuries, largely from lifting and transferring the people they care for. They also have higher than average rates of chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes, which become more serious when untreated.

The following components of the ACA would significantly affect direct care workers.  Continue reading »

NPR on Causes, Cures for Low Home Care Worker Wages

Posted by on October 23rd, 2012 at 9:35 am | 3 Comments »
                                                 By Jennifer Ludden

“Right now, many get no training at all. There’s little path to advancement. And with a median wage less than $10 an hour, it’s hard to call this a career,” says a report on home care worker wages that aired on NPR’s All Things Considered on October 16.

Reporter Jennifer Ludden and producer Marisa Peñaloza joined DCA in Washington, D.C. on the National Day of Action we sponsored last month. While there, they interviewed DCA board chair Tracy Dudzinski, who discussed the complexity of the work she does and the skills she needs as a home care worker. “When I’m in home care, I’m a doctor, I’m a nurse, I’m a cook, I’m a dietician,” she said. “You name it, we do it.”

The piece also discusses the need for the proposed rule that would grant minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers.

Read or listen to the NPR report here.

FPACG Celebrates, Educates Florida Direct Care Workers

Posted by on October 23rd, 2012 at 8:55 am | Comments Off on FPACG Celebrates, Educates Florida Direct Care Workers

Terry Bucher (L, with FPACG President Joan Leah) was honored for 15 years with FPACG.

“This was my first time here and I really enjoyed myself. I will be back next year,” said CNA Anita Cross of Lake County of the Florida Professional Association for Care Givers’ 17th annual convention, which was held on October 16 in Altamonte Springs. Our conference was a great success, drawing direct care workers from 11 counties.

We started out with a day of classes before the convention to help CNAs who are renewing their licenses cover all their mandated topics, including CPR and computer skills. That day ended with a Care Givers recognition dinner, where we celebrated the contributions made every day by caregivers.

We also recognized Care Giver of the Year Carolyn Gay, our first winner to be nominated by a member of her own family.

Continue reading »

Battle Lost, the Fight’s Still On for Domestic Workers Rights in California

Posted by on October 15th, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Comments Off on Battle Lost, the Fight’s Still On for Domestic Workers Rights in California

Katie Joaquin

In California, domestic workers have been building a movement of thousands of domestic workers, domestic employers, women, faith leaders, labor leaders, students, and community advocates, united in a vision of dignity and respect for the people who care for our families and homes. A priority item on our agenda is to win a bill of rights for domestic workers.

The second measure of its kind in the country, after one that went into effect in New York in November 2010, the California Domestic Workers Bill of Rights would have required the Department of Industrial Relations to promulgate regulations that would grant all home care workers and other domestic workers in the state the right to meal and rest breaks, overtime pay, and uninterrupted sleep.  Continue reading »

Arizona Direct Care Workers Get Education, Inspiration at Annual Conference

Posted by on October 15th, 2012 at 10:38 pm | 2 Comments »

“The seminar about delirium was very helpful, since it hit close to home and gave me a better understanding on what to look out for,” says Ramona Quiroga-Bowser. “The other seminars were great also—especially the keynote speaker at lunch!”

Ramona was one of about 100 direct care workers who attended the fifth annual Arizona direct care worker conference and celebration on October 10. The conference was hosted by the Arizona Direct Care Worker Association and Arizona Gerontological Nursing Association. Continue reading »

Article Spotlights Home Care Workers’ Fight for Respect

Posted by on October 8th, 2012 at 10:05 pm | Comments Off on Article Spotlights Home Care Workers’ Fight for Respect

Latasha Smith

DCA Board Chair and home care worker Tracy Dudzinski and Latasha Smith, a Houston home care worker who attended DCA’s Houston Voices Institute, are the two experts quoted in a feature story about poor wages and benefits for home care workers and how workers are fighting to improve them.

In Home Health-Care Workers Still Fighting for Higher Wages, Better Benefits, both women tell author Michael Lawson about the personal sacrifices they and their families are making due to their low salaries—and about why they love their profession. “I don’t get paid nearly enough, but it’s a job that is necessary,” says Smith.

They also talked about the National Day of Action organized by DCA in partnership with the National Domestic Workers Alliance and Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice on September 21. Both went to Washington, D.C. with DCA that day to urge their elected representatives to support minimum wage and overtime pay for home care workers. “I knew if I wanted things to change, I had to speak up. I had to be a part of the change I wanted to see,” says Dudzinski.

A Volunteer Caregiver’s Growing Respect for His Professional Peers

Posted by on October 8th, 2012 at 9:07 pm | 8 Comments »

Brad Nelson

I work for a large bank as an information technology project manager. I also volunteer as a caregiver, a role that has given me a new understanding and appreciation of the broad range of skills and abilities required by professional caregivers in their day-to-day jobs.

My introduction to caregiving started about ten years ago when my mother, who has since passed away, was diagnosed with mild to moderate dementia (it was later identified as Alzheimer’s). Fortunately, my younger brother lived with her at the time, so he became her caregiver. My mother was still driving when my brother started to help her out here and there, but by the end he was providing total care, including feeding her and carrying her to bed. Like so many in that position, he had no training and no idea of where to turn for help. I now know that during that time, my brother was likely experiencing that terrible feeling of isolation that almost everyone gets when they become a family caregiver. Continue reading »

Home Care Workers Crucial to Care Quality, Say Consumers

Posted by on October 2nd, 2012 at 2:22 am | 2 Comments »

When the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (The Consumer Voice) surveyed home care consumers about what they do and don’t like about the care they are receiving, one thing came through loud and clear: they love their home care workers, and they want them to have better working conditions. Late last month, DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian talked to Consumer Voice Executive Director Sarah Wells about what her group learned about that crucial relationship.

Sarah Wells

Your report says you found “the same critical importance of workers to consumers” in home care as you did in nursing homes, when you surveyed residents there in 1985. Why are direct care workers so important to long-term care consumers?

In all long-term care settings, that personal relationship is so important. Good relationships between direct care workers and consumers—good communication and mutual caring—is often the main thing that makes things work in nursing homes. Those relationships are really, really important to a good outcomes.

But it seems that in home care, from what the consumers told us, workers are able to develop those relationships with consumers to an even greater degree. Being in that person’s home, being with their families, spending time with the person talking one-to-one is all very conducive to creating a really personal relationship. One consumer told us, “I’m able to sit and talk to my worker about my personal philosophy of life.” Continue reading »

Texas Direct Care Workers Find Unity, Voices at Houston VI

Posted by on October 2nd, 2012 at 2:21 am | 3 Comments »

Download DCA’s press release about the event

Houston Voices Institute attendees with DCA's Jessica Brill Ortiz (far L) and Brenda Nachtway (far R)

Direct care workers from the Houston area strengthened their leadership and advocacy skills on September 27 and 28 at the Houston Voices Institute Leadership Training Program. A state-level version of the DCA’s Voices institute, the training covered personal and professional development with an emphasis on advocating for improvements to direct care jobs.

The direct care workers who participated were chosen for their leadership skills and commitment to their work. Among the speakers they heard from was Texas Representative Garnet Coleman, who urged them to make their concerns about their profession known to their elected representatives. “His intervention was eye-opening to all the possibilities out there, if only we can use our voices,” said CNA Alfonsina Bush of the Representative’s presentation.

For more on what attendees learned, read the comments some left on DCA’s blog. Continue reading »