Archive for April, 2014

Talking About #fairpay

Posted by on April 22nd, 2014 at 2:18 pm | Comments Off on Talking About #fairpay

equal pay graphicLast week Direct Care Alliance, 9to5 and the National Partnership for Women & Families co-hosted a tweet chat about why women still earn much less than men and what we can do to change that.

Equal pay for women is an important issue for direct care workers–and not just because 90% of all direct care workers are women. Like teaching, child care and other forms of “care work,” direct care is a traditionally female profession that pays less than it should because it has been pigeonholed–and devalued–as “women’s work.” And even within the profession, female direct care workers earn less than male workers on average.

Here are highlights from the chat.


Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on April 22nd, 2014 at 11:54 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

DCA’s Jessica Brill Ortiz will be one of the participants at a May 8 Capitol Hill briefing on long-term care hosted by OWL – the Voice of Midlife and Older Women. Jessica will explain the importance of direct care workers and the direct care workforce issues that must be addressed in order to ensure quality long-term care services and supports for all who need them.

A new bill would create advanced positions for CNAs with specialized skills in care transitions, dementia and other areas. 

An issue brief from Center for Law and Social Policy looks at the challenges many direct care workers and other low-income parents face as they cope with scheduling child care and other difficulties caused by volatile job schedules.

We must pay home care workers enough to support themselves and their families, say state senator Patricia Jehlen and Executive Director Lisa Gurgone of the Home Care Aide Council in Massachusetts.  Continue reading »

Greater Houston DCA Members Take Time to Recharge

Posted by on April 21st, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Comments Off on Greater Houston DCA Members Take Time to Recharge
Carla Washington

Carla Washington

“You touch with your heart long before you touch with your hand,” said one of the almost 200 participants attending the Care for Elders 17th Annual Direct Care Workers Conference in Houston, Texas, earlier this month.

Direct care workers came together to recharge, reconnect and remember why the care and services they provide to the elderly and people with disabilities is vital work, provided not only in Houston but by more than 300,000 direct care workers across the state. Members of Greater Houston Direct Care Alliance  (GHDCA) start planning early to ensure they’re available to attend the annual conference, because GHDCA’s members recognize the importance of taking care of themselves so they can provide quality care, services and support to their consumers. Continue reading »

Helping Obamacare Work for Direct Care Workers

Posted by on April 17th, 2014 at 11:21 am | Comments Off on Helping Obamacare Work for Direct Care Workers

DCA’s Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative has been helping direct care workers and other low-income workers in New York state get affordable health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Hadas Thier, the Outreach & Enrollment Coordinator for the initiative, recently answered questions from DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian about how the new law is helping direct care workers–and what could be done to make it work even better.

Hadas Thier (R) doing outreach

Hadas Thier (R) doing outreach

How were you able to help direct care workers with health insurance enrollment?

Over the last six months, we’ve reached out to hundreds of direct care workers in New York with information and assistance. It’s been really important to have an aggressive outreach campaign because so many people do not know what the Affordable Care Act is, how its marketplace works, and how it applies to them. This is doubly the case with many direct care workers, who may not have access to information through the internet, who may experience language barriers, and who often are isolated at their jobs if they work in individual homes.

Most of the direct care workers I spoke to had heard of “Obamacare” and wanted desperately to have health insurance, but did not know how to go about doing so. Across the board, workers were grateful to have clear information about what coverage options might be available to them and their families.  Continue reading »

Getting the Care I Need So I Can Provide Care

Posted by on April 7th, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Comments Off on Getting the Care I Need So I Can Provide Care

Valrie Broughton is a home health aide living in New York City. She started working in home care in 2000 in her native Jamaica. After getting health insurance with the help of our Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative, she shared her story with DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian.

Valrie Broughton

Valrie Broughton

I started working in home care because of my grandmother. When she was ill, no one was there to really take care of her. I couldn’t take care of her properly myself because I had to take care of my kids and work. After she passed away, I decided to become an LPN in my country, Jamaica, so I could help other people in need.

I started working in home care in 2000. I only stopped for a few months when I came to this country last April and could not get work for a while. I love this work. I enjoy being around older people, talking to them, taking care of their needs, giving them hope.

Since I came to New York, I’ve been living with my son. It’s been hard on him because he has to pay back his student loan and support himself, and now he has to support me too. But last month, I found a home care agency that trained me for my U.S. home health aide certification. I passed the test this week, so they just hired me.

I went without any health care for many months after moving here because I couldn’t find anyone who would cover me if I wasn’t working. Continue reading »

Speaking Up for the Profession I Love

Posted by on April 6th, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Comments Off on Speaking Up for the Profession I Love
Peg Ankney

Peg Ankney

About a month ago, DCA’s Jessica Brill Ortiz invited me to attend a March 25 advocacy day in Washington DC. The day was organized by Caring Across Generations, a movement of family members, workers, and others advocating for a system of quality, dignified care. I did some work with Caring Across last year through DCA, which is a member of their leadership team. I was impressed by their ethics and the work they are doing to improve our long-term care system, for both consumers and workers.

I wanted to visit the Capitol because of what I have already been experiencing in my state of Pennsylvania–and I am definitely not alone!

I’ve been a direct care worker for almost 40 years, 25 of them in home care. During the past 10 years I have witnessed a critical depletion in my workforce as demand grows. Because our senior population is living longer, there’s been a huge increase in the need for direct care workers who are passionate as well as compassionate, but too many of the trainees I see coming into the field have no heart for the profession. Instead, they see it only as something to pay the bills, or a stepping stone to something “better,” like a career as a nurse. Continue reading »

New Mexico Uses DCA Credential to Help Caregivers Prove Skills, Knowledge

Posted by on April 6th, 2014 at 11:03 pm | 1 Comment »

Adrienne Smith

While certified nursing assistants and home health aides have to take at least 75 hours of training and pass a certification exam to prove their fitness for the job, there is no federally mandated educational program or credential exam for personal or home care workers. To help fill that gap, Direct Care Alliance (DCA) developed the Personal Care and Support Credential in 2011. The credential measures the eight core areas every caregiver should know in order to perform his/her job at the highest levels, giving workers a way to prove their skills and knowledge and employers a way to evaluate potential caregivers.

In 2012, the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition (NMDCC), a statewide organization that advocates for caregivers, negotiated a partnership with DCA to administer the credential. Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on April 6th, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

The March/April Caring Economy Campaign newsletter includes an interview with DCA’s Jessica Brill Ortiz.

DCA Executive Director Carla Washington on why it pays to invest in advocacy by and for direct care workers.

Maryland’s General Assembly approved a $10.10 minimum wage–and 30% more for direct care workers who work with the developmentally disabled.

Minnesota’s governor and legislature agree to boost funding for long-term care—and pay for direct care workers.

The government of New Zealand has announced it will begin negotiations with unions and industry about paying home and community support workers while they’re travelling between jobs.

A Baltimore CEO on why direct care workers must earn more than minimum wage.

Fight for Direct Care Worker Raises Gaining Ground in Minnesota

Posted by on April 6th, 2014 at 11:40 am | Comments Off on Fight for Direct Care Worker Raises Gaining Ground in Minnesota
Bridget Siljander

Bridget Siljander

Minnesota caregivers—also known as direct care workers or direct support professionals—have been fighting for many years to get the support that they need to continue doing the work that they love. Now that fight is gaining momentum in a big way, thanks to the 5% Campaign the Minnesota disability community is uniting around. The campaign is asking legislators for a 5% increase in funding for home and community-based services, 75% of which will go toward compensating caregivers. The funding would go to two state programs: Home and Community-Based Services and Intermediate Care Facilities for Developmental Disabilities.

Last month, people with disabilities, direct care workers and other advocates gathered for Disability Day at the Capitol. Minnesota Public Radio and Kare11, our local news station, both covered the event. Kare11 quoted Pam Gonnella of Eagan, whose daughter lives in a group home, about how important the workers there are to her daughter’s well-being. “Which is why it’s so important to raise wages and cut down on the turnover at group homes and home based agencies,” Eagan said.  Continue reading »

Researchers Seek CNAs for Survey About Work Roles

Posted by on April 3rd, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Comments Off on Researchers Seek CNAs for Survey About Work Roles

Researchers recently asked DCA to help spread the word about a survey they are conducting of CNAs. If you or someone you know might qualify, please read on.

survey check markResearchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Nursing want to better understand certified nurse aides’ (CNAs) confidence in performing expanded work roles based on general work self-efficacy, and to describe CNA interest in working under a more expanded workplace scope of practice.

This 16-item survey will ask about how confident you feel you are in the achievement of your workplace goals. This is a one-time, voluntary survey. This survey is confidential and you have as much time as you need to complete it. This study is for CNAs who work in the United States and speak English. There is no cost to you nor will you be compensated for participating in this research study.

Click here to participate. Continue reading »