Archive for May, 2013

Why All My Fellow Home Care Workers Deserve Overtime Pay

Posted by on May 20th, 2013 at 4:32 pm | 8 Comments »

James O'haraI’m a direct care worker at Graham Behavioral Services in Augusta, Maine, providing in-home support for adults with mental illness. Our clients usually have a set of goals they want to achieve, and we help them achieve those goals. It’s usually things like learning to eat healthier, remembering to call in for appointments, remembering to take their meds and take care of their personal hygiene—life skills. The goal is to work yourself out of a job. You want to get to the point where your clients can do things for themselves, so they don’t need you as much.

The average person off the street can’t do this work. It requires someone with a lot of patience and a lot of creative thinking. Continue reading »

Advocating for Medicaid Expansion Under Health Care Reform

Posted by on May 20th, 2013 at 4:23 pm | 3 Comments »
Jessica Brill Ortiz

Jessica Brill Ortiz

Hundreds of thousands of direct care workers have no health insurance because they cannot afford pricey premiums and copays, yet they’re not eligible for coverage under Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for low-income Americans. The Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as health care reform or Obamacare) provides important ways for these workers and other low-income individuals and families to get affordable health care coverage.

Unfortunately, resistance from state lawmakers and others opposed to key aspects of the law is limiting access to affordable health care in some states. That’s why Direct Care Alliance, our members and allies are advocating for affordable health care through the ACA—and we hope you’ll join us!  Continue reading »

Educating My Legislature About CNA Staffing Ratios

Posted by on May 14th, 2013 at 8:25 am | 3 Comments »
Helen Hanson

Helen Hanson

Read Helen’s testimony.

One of the good things about doing advocacy work is that it gets easier with time. That’s partly just because you get better at it. Every time I speak up about direct care worker issues, it gets easier to figure out what I want to say and how to say it, and it’s been years since I was nervous about talking to my legislators.

It also helps that other people who care about the same issues get to know you, so if something comes up that they know you’d want to speak up about, they’ll let you know about it.

That’s what happened to me a couple weeks ago when our State Long Term Care Ombudsman, Brenda Gallant, told me about a hearing the Maine legislature was about to hold on a nursing home staffing bill. The bill would eliminate mandated staffing ratios for each shift and staff based upon residents’ acuity levels instead. Continue reading »

Making Our Mommas Proud

Posted by on May 14th, 2013 at 8:19 am | 2 Comments »

As a member of the Caring Across Generations Leadership Team, DCA is proud to have helped lead a series of actions organized by Caring Across Generations last week in Washington D.C. The following is a report on the events from some of the group’s leaders: Ai-jen Poo, Sarita Gupta, and Rory McCarron.

Ai-jen Poo (L), DCA's Brenda Nachtway (center) and DCA member Peg Ankney (R) with celebrity spokespeople Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker

Ai-jen Poo (L), DCA’s Brenda Nachtway (center) and DCA member Peg Ankney (R) in D.C. last week with celebrity spokespeople Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker.

We did it!

Last week, we brought more than 100 people representing 26 different states together for a congressional briefing in D.C., asking for a comprehensive approach to expanding and supporting a strong home care workforce and making community-based long-term services and supports affordable and accessible. Because long-term care is a women’s issue—women both provide and receive most of the care and services—we built our visits around the theme of Mother’s Day.

Together we shared over two hours of testimony, held more than 40 meetings with Senate offices, and got resolutions introduced into both the House and the Senate, calling for a solution to the long-term care crises our families are in. We couldn’t have done it without your support.

Take a look at the great work we did togetherContinue reading »

Building a Brighter Future Together

Posted by on May 6th, 2013 at 9:19 pm | 1 Comment »
Carla D. Washington

Carla D. Washington


Thank you for all the warm words of congratulations and offers to share your knowledge and networks that I received in my first week at DCA. In the coming weeks and months, I will be working with staff in reaching out to our many allies and partners to help shape the answer to the very important question: What’s next for DCA? There are still many untapped horizons and possibilities, and I look forward to working with you to build a brighter future for direct care workers and the people who rely on them.

I also want to thank David Ward for his leadership during the past 18 months as DCA’s interim executive director. David stepped up under some of the most trying circumstances in DCA’s history, after my predecessor, Leonila Vega, took medical leave to fight the cancer she succumbed to last year. He not only kept things moving forward but strengthened the organization. He will continue to help elevate our agenda now as our deputy director.  Continue reading »

Employer Urges President to Give Home Care Workers Basic Labor Protections

Posted by on May 6th, 2013 at 9:08 pm | 1 Comment »
Phil Garner

Phil Garner

“The home care workers who stay in this career are working from the heart,” writes Phil Garner in last Saturday’s Knoxville News Sentinel. “They don’t choose this profession because they want to get rich, but they do want to put food on the table and keep the lights on without having to rely on food stamps or utility assistance. Paying so poorly for such important work is unfair to them, and to the people who rely on them for support and services.”

Garner is the executive director of Buffalo River Services, an agency that provides services to people with disabilities and their families in several counties in south central Tennessee. In his editorial, he urges President Obama to follow through on his promise to extend Fair Labor Standards Act protections to home care workers. Read Phil’s editorial.