Archive for October, 2013

Standing up for Myself and My Fellow Workers by Joining DCA

Posted by on October 18th, 2013 at 4:43 pm | 2 Comments »
Mohan Varghese

Mohan Varghese

The first time I contacted Direct Care Alliance was after I was told by my employer that I would be accompanying him on the road for trips that lasted several days and would be paid for only 12 hours a day of my time. My immediate thought was: I will contact the Department of Labor (DOL) and they will take care of it.

But when I contacted DOL, I learned that they could not help because we home care workers were shut out of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) under the companionship exemption. I searched online to find a way to stand up for myself and my fellow workers, who put in long hard hours doing skilled tasks only to be mischaracterized as companions or elder sitters.

I found DCA during my search. Continue reading »

Direct Care Alliance of Maine Attends the Common Ground Fair

Posted by on October 18th, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Alliance of Maine Attends the Common Ground Fair

Helen Hanson at the Common Ground Fair

“Do you know about direct care workers?”

That’s the question we settle on at our table at the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine, as people stream by in the big Social Action tent where we set up shop from Friday, September 20, though Sunday the 22nd.

The answers are as varied as the people, “Yes, I am one.”

“Oh sure. We had someone coming to the house when Mom was sick.”

“No. Tell me about them.”

“Not really. But I’m a teacher/social worker/therapist/doctor/nurse/therapist and I support what you guys do.”

“No. But we need someone to take care of Dad. How would we go about doing that?”

For many years the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association has hosted the Common Ground Fair. It has goats, chickens, donkeys and oxen. It has sheep herding demonstrations with border collies scurrying happily in the arena. It has soap making and weaving. You can buy honey, maple syrup, lamb’s wool sweaters and solar collectors. There are lots of children with painted faces and people speaking about sustainability. There’s music. It is Maine the way life should be.

It is also a very popular attraction, so we decided we should be there, representing Direct Care Alliance of Maine, the national DCA, and our profession. Continue reading »

Federal Employees: Here’s an Easy Way to Give to DCA

Posted by on October 18th, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Comments Off on Federal Employees: Here’s an Easy Way to Give to DCA

Print2The Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) is the world’s largest and most successful workplace charity campaign. Every year, federal civilian, postal and military donors pledge millions of dollars to the campaign, supporting charities across the country. Direct Care Alliance is thrilled to be a CFC-approved charity this year. If you are a federal employee, please consider making your CFC contribution to DCA.

As a reader of this blog, you already know about the important work we do—empowering workers to speak up for better wages, benefits, training, respect and workplace conditions through advocacy, leadership training, and support for local direct care worker organizations. Just last month, a coalition led by DCA and a few of our close allies won a huge victory when home care workers were guaranteed minimum wage and overtime protections under federal law. But there is still work to be done. Continue reading »

Self-Care, Client Care at Arizona Direct Care Worker Conference

Posted by on October 18th, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Comments Off on Self-Care, Client Care at Arizona Direct Care Worker Conference

AZ conference pic 3September 25 was a day of good company, good food and great speakers for the direct care workers who attended the Arizona Direct Care Worker Association’s sixth annual Care Worker Conference and Celebration.

There was a focus on self-care in the morning. Three massage instructors at one of our vendor tables gave chair massages to attendees, and Leigh Weinraub, an engaging motivational speaker, talked about the importance of staying mentally and physically fit. Continue reading »

DCA’s Voices Institute Goes to Brooklyn

Posted by on October 8th, 2013 at 9:14 am | Comments Off on DCA’s Voices Institute Goes to Brooklyn
Carla Washington (front right) with the Brookyn attendees

Carla Washington (front right) with the Brookyn attendees.

What an amazing group of direct care workers I got to meet on September 25 and 26, at a Voices Institute training for CenterLight Best Choice Home Care in Brooklyn, New York! Direct Care Alliance Executive Director Carla Washington and I led the training for 19 home health aides, who had a total of 103 years of direct care experience between them.

As we did our introductions on the first day, the group shared their challenges and the passion for their work that makes them get up every morning to do it all over again, with smiles on their faces. One worker talked about a colleague who was also there, saying she went above and beyond the call of duty by taking a long subway ride and then walking 20 minutes to get to one of her clients. The woman she was talking about said: “But this is my job! I would do that for any one of my clients.”  Continue reading »

Why I Advocate for Medicaid Expansion

Posted by on October 8th, 2013 at 9:13 am | 1 Comment »
Vernell Simmons

Vernell Simmons

Last month, I traveled from my home in Houston to Austin to meet with people from nonprofit organizations around Texas. I represented Direct Care Alliance and our local chapter, the Greater Houston Direct Care Alliance. Many groups were represented—low-income children, people with mental illness, and so on. We were all there to talk about how to support implementation of the Affordable Care Act–including getting Texas to expand its Medicaid program.

I am currently caring for two private-duty clients in my job as a home care aide. To pay the bills and get affordable health insurance, I have to work full-time at another job, as a claims assistant in my regional VA office. Most of my co-workers and friends who are home care workers do not have any health insurance, because they are either employed by individuals who can’t provide them with coverage or by agencies that do not offer it. In Texas we have the highest percentage of uninsured people in the country. That is why I am an advocate for getting Medicaid expansion passed in the state of Texas. We need to get these people insured. Continue reading »

Advocates Gear Up to Support Paid Family Leave Bill

Posted by on October 8th, 2013 at 9:13 am | Comments Off on Advocates Gear Up to Support Paid Family Leave Bill

The Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act (FAMILY Act), a bill that would make paid family and medical leave available to nearly all America’s workers, is expected to be introduced very soon in Congress. DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian talked to Rachel Lyons, Government Affairs Manager for the National Partnership for Women & Families, about the bill and how it would benefit direct care workers and the people they assist. 

Rachel Lyons

Rachel Lyons

What would this bill do for direct care workers and other American workers?

The FAMILY Act would create a paid family and medical leave insurance program that would bring the nation’s employment safeguards more in line with the needs of the 21st century workforce and the rest of the world. We lag behind most other nations in providing paid leave for new parents, to address one’s own serious health condition or to take care of an ill family member. For example, the US is one of only eight nations worldwide that don’t provide some sort of paid maternity leave.

This bill would create a national insurance program that would allow people to take time off with some wage replacement for a number of reasons: their own illness; bringing a new child into a family through pregnancy and childbirth, adoption, or fostering; taking care of a family member with a serious illness; or certain kinds of leave related to military service.  Continue reading »