Archive for December, 2012

Join the Fight for Your Profession

Posted by on December 31st, 2012 at 11:16 am | Comments Off on Join the Fight for Your Profession

Brenda Nachtway

Millions of hardworking people like you struggle to support themselves and their families on the low wages they earn for taking care of some of our society’s most vulnerable people. You deserve better working conditions, wages, and benefits for doing this important work. By becoming a member of Direct Care Alliance, you can join your fellow direct care workers in the fight for change.

Thanks to your feedback, we now have an exciting new package of benefits. Your $25 annual membership fee will give you:

  •   A $3,000 basic term life insurance policy for all DCA members who are employed at least 40 hours a month. Continue reading »

Tracking the Decline in Personal Care Aide Wages

Posted by on December 18th, 2012 at 10:59 am | Comments Off on Tracking the Decline in Personal Care Aide Wages

You probably knew wages for personal care aides (PCAs) are too low, but did you know they’re getting actually getting worse, after adjusting for inflation? You can read all about it in The State Chart Book on Wages for Personal Care Aides, 2001-2011, which was published by PHI this October. PHI Policy Research Analyst Abby Marquand, who coauthored the report with PHI Policy Research Director Dorie Seavey (with the assistance of Jena Grady), recently answered these questions about the report from DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian.

Abby Marquand

Why did you choose to focus on that particular group of direct care workers?

Personal care aides tend to be the lowest earning group of direct-care workers, and currently they are not protected under federal minimum wage and overtime laws through the Fair Labor Standards Act. They are also the only group without federally required training standards. However, we rely on them to perform essential services for helping keep older adults and individuals with disabilities safely in their homes.  Continue reading »

Gaining a New Perspective on Life by Dealing with Death

Posted by on December 11th, 2012 at 2:00 pm | 1 Comment »

Anita Cross

I’m a CNA and home health aide at Cornerstone Hospice in Florida. I’ve been working in hospice for 10 years, and for about 10 years before that I did direct care work in nursing homes, home care, and assisted living.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to work in hospice care at first, because I didn’t think I wanted to deal with all that death and dying. But I found out that is my calling. I feel as if God has given me a privilege to work with people in their time of need—not only the patients but also the family members.

Everyone grieves in different ways. I have to be the social worker, the counselor, the priest, whatever they need at that time. Whether they need something spiritual or physical, we try our best to be there for them. I sometimes sit with the patient, if they don’t have any loved ones to visit them, until they take their last breath. I’m holding their hand, letting them have human contact as they pass over to the other side. I find that to be very rewarding.

It also gives me perspective. In the end, it makes me feel like I don’t have any problems because I’m still living. Continue reading »

Anniversary Sparks Calls to Action on Home Care Rule

Posted by on December 11th, 2012 at 11:02 am | 1 Comment »


Last Saturday marked the anniversary of a magnificent promise from President Obama to the nation’s home care workers. Announcing a proposed rule to ensure basic labor protections for home care workers through the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, the President pledged: “Today, we’re guaranteeing home care workers minimum wage and overtime pay protection.”

The rule was published, the public comments poured in and proved to be overwhelmingly favorable—and the wheels of justice stalled. A year later, home care workers still have no right to minimum wage or overtime pay.

But DCA and the other advocates behind the rule are still working to remind the President of his promise, and their words rang out across the nation last week.  Continue reading »

NPR Reports on Why We Need Immigrant Direct Care Workers

Posted by on December 4th, 2012 at 2:17 am | Comments Off on NPR Reports on Why We Need Immigrant Direct Care Workers

Elizabeth Castillo

“I’m a social worker, a psychologist,” said home care worker and Voices Institute graduate Elizabeth Castillo in an NPR report last week. “I wear so many hats on this job. I wish we were valued because we provide much more than companionship.”

Elizabeth was interviewed for a story about the importance of immigrants to the direct care workforce, which aired on NPR’s All Things Considered on November 30. Listen to or read the report.

Seeking Racial Justice for Direct Care Workers

Posted by on December 4th, 2012 at 2:17 am | Comments Off on Seeking Racial Justice for Direct Care Workers

Jessica Brill Ortiz

Last month, I had a rare and refreshing opportunity to talk to presenters and attendees about the intersection of direct care work, immigration, and the U.S. economy from a racial justice perspective.

The occasion was a session I co-hosted at the Facing Race Conference in Baltimore, along with Executive Director Sarita Gupta of Jobs with Justice and Trishala Deb, Director of Strategic Partnerships for Caring Across Generations (CAG). We were there to talk about the national CAG campaign, of which DCA is a Leadership Team member.

Facing Race is the largest national multi-racial event to bring together activists, leaders, educators, journalists, and artists to share their knowledge on advocating for racial justice.

Trishala and Sarita provided an overview of the Caring Across Generations campaign and of issues faced by long-term care consumers, addressing both from the racial justice perspective. I talked about how racial justice issues affect direct care workers, pointing out that it’s no coincidence that women and people from racial and ethnic minority backgrounds make up the majority of a workforce (88% are female, 53% are non-white, and 20% are born outside the U.S) whose very necessary work is undervalued and undercompensated in America. As home care worker and DCA Board Chair Tracy Dudzinksi says, direct care work is “expected but not respected.”  Continue reading »

Voices Institute Training Empowers, Inspires Arizona Workers

Posted by on December 4th, 2012 at 2:11 am | 2 Comments »

Read DCA’s press release

Arizona Voices Institute 2012 attendees and trainers with State Sen. Paula Aboud (front row, 2nd from R).

“I want to be with the person I assist, doing home care, helping them lead the life they want to live, and I want to be respected for doing that,” said home care worker Pamela O’Neal at the Arizona Voices Institute 2012.

Pamela was one of the direct care workers who honed their leadership and advocacy skills on November 14-16 at the event, a state-level version of DCA’s intensive, interactive national Voices Institute training program.

“This training was a great opportunity for direct care workers to learn about the numerous opportunities that exist right now for them to tell their stories and make their voices heard on

a variety of issues that have a significant impact on themselves, their families and their colleagues,” says DCA National Advocacy Coordinator Jessica Brill Ortiz, one of the trainers for the event. Continue reading »

The President Proposes New Rules to Implement ACA Provisions

Posted by on December 4th, 2012 at 2:07 am | Comments Off on The President Proposes New Rules to Implement ACA Provisions

On November 20, President Obama issued several proposed rules to implement key provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which makes quality health insurance affordable and accessible to millions of Americans and hundreds of thousands of direct care workers. One rule would prohibit health insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums based on a pre-existing or chronic condition or other factors, including gender and occupation. Premiums could vary only within set limits and based only on factors such as age, tobacco use, and family size.

Another rule outlines policies and standards for coverage of a core package of items and services for consumers, called essential health benefits, that health plans in individual and small group markets would be required to offer. Continue reading »