Posted by Direct Care Alliance on October 14th, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Comments Off on Home Care Workers Rising
The following photos and stories are from the Voices Institute graduates, several of whom were also DCA board members, who represented Direct Care Alliance and their profession at the Home Care Workers Rising summit. The summit was hosted by Caring Across Generations in St. Louis on October 6 and 7.
It Rekindled the Fight in Me
I was fortunate to be invited to the Home Care Workers Rising summit by the Direct Care Alliance board of directors. The summit brought together members of the SEIU, AFSCME, the National Domestic Workers Alliance, Jobs with Justice, Hand in Hand, Caring Across Generations, and Jews for Racial and Economic Justice to spark and rekindle the Home Care Worker fight for a job that is respected, pays a living wage, includes benefits and paid time off. We were home care workers and consumers, all sharing and learning what each other were doing in the fight to improve home care jobs. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on May 16th, 2014 at 11:49 am | Comments Off on How to Improve Elder Care
This Wednesday, Direct Care Alliance, Eldercare Workforce Alliance and the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care hosted an Older Americans Month tweetchat on how to support older adults’ independence, safety and health. Here are highlights from the chat, including links to moving testimonials, useful resources, and tips about how you can help.
Posted by Jessica Brill Ortiz on May 5th, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Comments Off on What Older Americans Really Need
Jessica Brill Ortiz
May is Older Americans Month, traditionally a time to recognize older adults’ contributions to the United States. But if we genuinely want to use this May to give back to the parents, grandparents and other elders who have done so much for us, we must turn our attention to the direct care workers who help millions of older adults live as healthily and independently as possible. We must stop shortchanging elders by turning our backs on the direct care workers they depend on.
Read the rest of my editorial in The Hill’s Congress blog.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on May 1st, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Comments Off on DCA to Speak About Direct Care Workers at D.C. Briefing
Jessica Brill Ortiz
DCA National Advocacy Director Jessica Brill Ortiz will speak at a May 8 briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
OWL–The Voice of Midlife and Older Women is holding the briefing to observe the release of its annual Mother’s Day report, which focuses this year on long-term care, services and supports. Brill Ortiz will speak about the critical role played by direct care workers and how best to strengthen and support the workforce so workers can meet the growing demand for reliable, high-quality care and services.
The briefing will address a critical juncture at which America stands and how we can successfully navigate it: As our population ages and lives longer, we are experiencing a fast-growing need for long-term care, services and supports. Continue reading »
Posted by Peg Ankney on April 6th, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Comments Off on Speaking Up for the Profession I Love
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 »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on January 13th, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Comments Off on A Family Member Thanks Her “Saving Grace,” Direct Care Workers
In a moving editorial published by the Portland Press-Herald on the day before Christmas, DCA board member Erin Hayes describes her gratitude to the direct care worker who comes to her home every morning to help her husband, a C4/C5 quadriplegic, get ready for work. “She has given Ben the independence that he deserves–independence from me.” Erin writes. “Imagine your wife or even your mom caring for you every single day. How would that make you feel? Direct care workers help alleviate that burden, not just on family members but also on those who need the care.
“But direct care workers need help, too. Low government reimbursement rates, mostly through Medicaid and Medicare, for the services they provide mean low wages for these workers, who average around $10 an hour.
“Add to that inadequate training and little respect and support, and it is not surprising that it can be almost impossible to retain direct care workers,” she continues. Read Erin’s editorial.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on April 18th, 2013 at 11:05 am | 5 Comments »
A resource released today explains how all home care stakeholders—clients and their family members, employers and workers—will benefit once home care workers are assured the right to minimum wage and overtime pay. Produced by PHI and announced at a conference call for members of the media hosted by PHI, DCA and other members of the campaign to win these basic rights, We Can’t Wait! is a collection of testimonials gathered by DCA and our allies.
A few facts and statistics about the regulations and the home care workforce are sprinkled throughout the 68-page publication, but it is almost entirely devoted to dozens of stories from key home care stakeholders.
That makes We Can’t Wait! a powerful tool for advocates of the rule change, and a useful resource for reporters and others who want to better understand what is at stake. To quote its introduction: “at its core this is about real people—men and women, elders and people with disabilities who need the assistance of home care workers to live independently and with dignity. It is about the home care workers themselves, who care deeply about their clients, but must also support their own families. They work long hours and often two jobs but still must rely on public assistance to make ends meet. It is also about employers trying to do the right thing and pay fair wages but who find themselves at a competitive disadvantage with those exploiting the companionship exemption to maximize profits. These are their stories.”
We Can’t Wait! was funded by the Ford Foundation.
Posted by Melva Proctor on April 8th, 2013 at 9:09 pm | 2 Comments »
I love my job, but it hurts me to see how little respect most of us get for doing it, and how little so many of us direct care workers are paid.
The average hourly wage for nursing assistants in nursing homes and hospitals is less than $12 an hour. I do better than that, but I’m still just a paycheck away from eviction. At the nursing home where I work full-time, they don’t allow us much overtime to keep costs down, so I very seldom get overtime pay. I have to work part-time at another nursing home to make ends meet.
My two sons still live with me—one just moved back home and one never left. One of my boys works, but I have to help him out because the cost of living is so high.
Continue reading »
Posted by Judy Clinco on March 25th, 2013 at 1:27 pm | 2 Comments »
I’m the president and CEO of Catalina In-Home Services in Tucson, Arizona. We offer personal care and support services. Our clients are all private pay. We have about 65 caregivers, who we call professional direct care workers. They all have formal training, and the majority are certified nursing assistants.
When I started the company in 1981, I felt very strongly that we were going to have to offer benefits if we were going to be able to be competitive in terms of being able to recruit and retain the best. So we have always offered paid time off. We call it paid time off rather than paid sick days because you can also use it for vacation or personal time. And if you’d rather cash it out than use it, you can do that too. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on January 21st, 2013 at 3:57 pm | 2 Comments »
By LaDonna Williams and Lucille Daniels
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “all mankind is tied together; all life is interrelated, and we are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” His words were never truer than in the case of home care workers like us, who provide hands-on care, services and support to millions of Americans.
For one thing, there’s a clear link between the quality of our jobs and the quality of care we can provide. We see a lot of people come and go in our profession, and we know how hard that is on their clients, who have to keep getting used to new caregivers. But we also know how hard it can be to commit to this profession, even when you love it, if the pay is so poor it’s hard to provide for your own family. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on November 12th, 2012 at 10:01 am | Comments Off on Looking for a Few Good Direct Support Professional Employers
The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and the Research and Training Center (RTC) at the University of Minnesota’s Institute on Community Integration are seeking nominations for the 2013 Moving Mountains Award. The purpose of the award is to recognize organizations using best practices in direct support staff workforce development that result in improved outcomes for the people being supported.
These nominations are a component of a national research project in which the RTC will conduct in-depth case studies to richly describe the characteristics, objectives, and outcomes of best practice initiatives designed to improve competence, status, compensation, and stability of direct support staff. Descriptions of the case studies will be disseminated and shared with provider agencies, policy makers, and interested stakeholder groups in a number of ways, including: on the RTC and NADSP websites, as practical illustrations in RTC/NADSP publications and presentations, and in a final publication on best practice.
Learn more or submit a nomination.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance 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.
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 »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on August 7th, 2012 at 8:43 am | Comments Off on What Makes Direct Care Workers Stay
Ameia Yen-Patton is a nurse, educator, and researcher who has worked as a gerontological nurse practitioner in acute care, home care, and nursing homes in for more than 25 years. She recently earned a PhD in nursing. Last month, she talked to us about what she learned while researching her PhD thesis, which focuses on key causes of job satisfaction or frustration for direct care workers and their supervisors.
What did you measure in your research?
We were measuring the amount of reciprocal ethical caring that was present in nursing home staff. Those who had a strong sense of reciprocal ethical caring, both personally and professionally, can be predicted to stay. Those who are not connected in that way will not stay.
How do you define reciprocal ethical caring?
The word reciprocity is usually defined as doing something that is mutually beneficial. In caregiving, reciprocal relationships are often with the people you care for. They give you love and affection; they give you caring; they give you support; they give you respect; they give you communication—but only if you are receptive. Reciprocity requires both parties to be receptive. There also needs to be reciprocity between the worker, co-workers and the employer. You have to feel confident that if you find something wrong you can address it, and you will be listened to. You need to feel that you are respected and appreciated, and that there is support when you need it. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on May 22nd, 2012 at 9:01 am | 5 Comments »
A recent report from RTI press analyzed the sky-high injury rate–the highest for any occupational setting–among CNAs in nursing and residential care facilities. Lead researcher Galina Khatutsky talked to us this week about her team’s findings, including the fact that injury rates are lower among workers who are better paid and who feel respected and valued by their employers.
One of your most interesting findings was that CNAs who have better working conditions—those who are higher paid, feel respected and rewarded for their work, and work for facilities they perceive as valuing CNA work—are less likely to get injured on the job. How strong are those correlations and what do you think causes them?
It was a pretty big effect. We don’t know why, but we thought that maybe if CNAs perceive that their organizational cultures were welcoming that would promote a safer working environment because, for instance, it might be easier for them to collaborate and obtain additional help when they need it. We thought they might be less likely to feel that they have to rush and more likely to help each other. As for pay, we thought it may be a proxy for other CNA characteristics that we could not measure. For instance, staff who are higher paid might tend to have more motivation or to provide better care. Maybe they’re just more experienced and know what they’re doing. Continue reading »
Posted by Harry Graham on May 22nd, 2012 at 9:00 am | 3 Comments »
Harry Graham and his wife Carol co-own Graham Behavioral Services, Inc., a mental health services agency with offices in Augusta and Portland, Maine. In addition, Graham presents at conferences on the topic of leadership and ethics and their effect on clinical outcomes, which is also the subject of a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) thesis he is currently researching. He talked to us earlier this month about what his work and his research have taught him about how investing time and money in direct care workers pays off for agency owners.
What is the subject of your thesis?
The premise is mythopoetic leadership. That means establishing a culture that’s healthy for customer, vendors and staff. How do you retain the employee, the direct care workers?
It’s a matter of organizational development, structure, and how approachable the executive team is. If staff don’t feel they’re appreciated or valued, it does not work. An autocratic management model in nursing or care work does not work. The staff have to feel comfortable coming into the office. At the beginning, I don’t know how many staff said, “Gee, the CEO’s talking to me!” Well yeah, why not? That’s one of the problems, when ego gets in the way of communicating. You see that a lot. Direct care workers need to be valued. They are the service. Our service is only as good as the staff providing the service.
My door’s always open. I don’t get anything done during the morning except what they call “management by walking around.” It’s also management by objectives: Staff have to feel that they’re a part of what’s going on. I fill staff in on what’s going on and get their opinion so they can be part of the strategic plan. There are not too many agencies that do that.
We pay well. Direct care workers usually start at about $11 an hour. Then they get annual increases after that based on merit. We provide health insurance and a 401(k) if they work more than 20 hours a week. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on May 15th, 2012 at 9:25 am | Comments Off on Study Finds Link Between Low Staffing, Nursing Home Deaths
Plenty of studies have shown that care quality in nursing homes suffers when nursing assistants “work short,” but a new analysis of Medicare and other data reaches a startling conclusion: Nursing assistant staffing levels may literally be a matter of life and death for nursing home residents.
A group of researchers from the University of California, Davis, looked into why more people die during times of low unemployment, questioning the conventional wisdom that the cause is stress from overwork. As reported in Why Do More People Die During Economic Expansions?, they found that only 9 percent of the 6,700 additional deaths associated with a one-percent decline in unemployment in 2006 occurred among people of working age, while three-quarters occurred among elders. Women over 65 were particularly hard hit, accounting for more than half (55%) of the deaths. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on May 7th, 2012 at 7:43 pm | 1 Comment »
A recent article in a leading publication for nonprofits detailed the challenges faced by long-term care employers who can’t afford to pay direct care workers a living wage–and who often deal with uncomfortably high turnover as a result. In the April 29 issue of The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Nicole Wallace explained how low government reimbursement rates lead to low wages, and why well-intentioned employers often find the best they can do for their frontline employees is to help them get the food stamps and other government benefits they are entitled to. Her article is reposted below with permission of The Chronicle of Philanthropy.
Service Charities Seek Ways to Help Their Lowest-Paid Employees Get By
Catholic Charities helps employees access the government benefits their low wages qualify them for.
By Nicole Wallace
As a certified nursing assistant at a nonprofit rehabilitation center in central Maine, Helen Hanson helps patients with basic activities healthy people take for granted—eating, dressing, bathing, and going to the bathroom. Because the 46-year-old aide works second shift, she earns $10.80 an hour, a dollar more than the base pay for a nursing assistant at the center, and she often picks up extra hours on weekends when wages rise to $12 an hour.
Still, Ms. Hanson says that after she pays the bills each month, she barely has enough money left for groceries and gas, let alone to put money aside for an emergency. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on February 21st, 2012 at 9:24 am | 4 Comments »
The current issue of Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, a new academic journal from Johns Hopkins Press, is built around personal reflections about CNA work from DCA Board Chair Tracy Dudzinski and nine other nursing assistants.
The third and last in a year-long series that also featured testimonials from patients and physicians, the issue concludes its section on nursing assistant work with two scholarly commentaries on the testimonials.
The nursing assistant stories cover a broad range of concerns, experiences, observations, and sensibilities, from Tracy’s testimonial, which was adapted from a speech she delivered at an Institute of Medicine symposium, to a letter from retired nursing assistant Margaret Fletcher, who offered life lessons she has gleaned over the years. Genevieve (Jeni) Gipson of the National Network of Career Nursing Assistants assisted the editors in putting the symposium together. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on April 11th, 2011 at 4:48 pm | 1 Comment »
Guest blog from Brandon Walecka
I have limited experience with direct care workers in the community-based setting. But in the nursing home (NH) setting I have much more familiarity. Through the ombudsman program I have been trained to spot issues and concerns of residents in NH facilities. I have been trained on how to address and resolve concerns of residents. A NH is a place residents call “home.” The NH has become a place where someone may live the remaining days of their lives or come in for a brief period of rehabilitation and recovery until they may return to their home. Continue reading »