Archive for ‘awards and recognition’

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on October 21st, 2014 at 6:14 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

The people that take care of me deserve a living wage,” says home care recipient Kyle Auxier.

How well a home care worker is treated has depended entirely on the employer. Now, that’s finally changing.

Award-winning home health aide Joe Quinn on how home care workers go above and beyond for their clients.

Nearly three-quarters of direct care workers are forced to rush through basic care for the elderly and disabled, survey finds.

Ai-jen Poo on why it is essential that we pay home care workers enough to support their familiesContinue reading »

How My DCA Blog Post Won Me a Car

Posted by on September 16th, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Comments Off on How My DCA Blog Post Won Me a Car

Chevy Prizm keysOn a Treadmill Going Backward, my Direct Care Alliance blog post about how hard it is to get by on a home care worker’s wages, is developing a life of its own.

Right after it was published, Steve Farnham of the Aroostock Area Agency on Aging asked permission to give copies to legislators and legislative candidates “to support an effort to increase wages and promote benefits for direct care workers in Maine.” The Maine Peoples Alliance asked me to read the essay on their Town Hall telecommunication system last month—to about 10,000 people!  On Labor Day I gave a copy to Mike Michaud, who is running for governor of Maine.  And I will be reading the story at the Kennebec Valley Organization’s Candidate night on September 18.

Meanwhile, Jack Hayes, who read and commented on my blog post, was inspired to offer me the most amazing gift.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on May 20th, 2014 at 11:59 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

The New York Times on why we must not delay implementation of the new rule extending minimum wage and overtime pay to home care workers.

Read about the awesome recipients of ANCOR’s 2014 Direct Support Professionals Award.

Former home health aides bring valuable perspective to the job when they transition into nursing, says home care agency president Marki Flannery.

Check out and contribute to the new website, an opportunity for direct care workers and other advocates to tell their stories and share solutions.

From Northeast England, the diary of a home care worker:  overworked, underpaid, and looking after your loved ones. Continue reading »

Direct Care Worker Voices Ring Loud and Clear at Capitol Hill Briefing

Posted by on May 18th, 2014 at 1:32 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Worker Voices Ring Loud and Clear at Capitol Hill Briefing

“That was so compelling.” “How can I learn more?” “How powerful!”

That was some of the feedback I received from the people who approached me following a May 8 briefing on Capitol Hill. The Washington, D.C. briefing was hosted by OWL–The Voice of Midlife and Older Women, to observe the release of its annual Mother’s Day report. The focus of this year’s report is long-term care, services and supports (LTSS), including growing demand, challenges, and opportunities for improvement, and I had been asked to talk about how direct care workers fit into that picture. My co-panelists highlighted key considerations including how best to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities, the challenges facing family caregivers, financing, and the lack of a political will for change. I spoke about the critical role played by direct care workers and how best to strengthen and support the direct care workforce to meet the growing demand for high-quality care and support.

When I spoke, there were gasps from the audience at the size and anticipated growth of the workforce, the percentage of women in the profession, and the low wages and high rate of dependence on public assistance among direct care workers. We are so familiar with these facts and figures that we sometimes forget how shocking they are to people who are new to them, but reactions at the briefing proved that we were reaching new people, teaching them about the urgency and importance of direct care workforce issues, and inspiring them to take action. Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on February 24th, 2014 at 11:04 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

“It’s way, way deeper than just a job,” says one of the home care workers in this article about going the extra mile to get to clients during this winter’s storms.

Personal support workers in Illinois and home care workers in Washington rallied for higher wages.

A home heath aide and single mother in Texas is typical of the new wave of food stamp recipients.

Sarita Gupta of Jobs With Justice on why the fight for direct care worker rights is a fight for racial justice.

AFSCME’s Laura Reyes on the sexist agenda hidden in the Supreme Court case about unions and home care workers.

Nurse’s aide Timikia Craig, winner of a $1,000 scholarship, on what drew her to direct care work and what it means to her.

After reading about a jobless home care worker in Pennsylvania whose unemployment benefits were ending, the wife of a Virginia man with end-stage dementia who relies on home care paid the worker’s mortgage for a month.

We must increase wages for direct support professionals, says a letter to the editor by staff of Arc Maryland.

Employers: Sign Up Your Workers to Become DCA Members

Posted by on April 15th, 2013 at 5:10 pm | Comments Off on Employers: Sign Up Your Workers to Become DCA Members
Brenda Nachtway

Brenda Nachtway

The people I know who own or manage home care agencies, nursing homes, hospices and other places that provide long-term care and services are always looking for ways to give their direct care workers a little something extra, to show that they know how hard they work and how important they are. Nursing assistant appreciation days, staff picnics, and gas cards are all good ways to thank your staff, but I have another idea for you: Pay their annual fees to join Direct Care Alliance.

For $25 a year, you can enroll your employees in a professional association, introducing them to a national network of advocates working to improve direct care jobs and the quality of care direct care workers can provide—and to a local support network as well, if there’s one in your area. They’ll get our free weekly newsletter, which is full of inspiring news about developments in direct care and testimonials from direct care workers. They’ll have opportunities to share their own stories. And they’ll get benefits like a $3,000 basic term life, accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy, medical discounts, and priority access to our Voices Institute trainings.  Continue reading »

Paying Tribute to Leonila

Posted by on March 25th, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Comments Off on Paying Tribute to Leonila


There were cheers and tears in the ballroom of the building that houses the Direct Care Alliance, as people gathered on March 19 to honor the memory of Leonila Vega. (To learn more about Leonila, visit our new tribute page about her.)

Nearly all the direct care workers and advocates in the room were friends or colleagues of Leonila’s. Most were both, since Leonila had a gift for working with people she loved and loving the people she worked with. DCA is deeply grateful to all who attended and supported the event, as well as for all the love and support from our friends and colleagues over the past several months.

Direct care worker advocates Timothy Doe, Brenda Nachtway, Tracy Dudzinski and Joan Leah  paid tribute to Leonila at the event, thanking her for the inspiration, support and faith in their abilities that helped make committed advocates of them all. All are graduates of the Voices Institute, which has now been renamed the Leonila Vega Voices Institute. Continue reading »

FPACG Celebrates, Educates Florida Direct Care Workers

Posted by on October 23rd, 2012 at 8:55 am | Comments Off on FPACG Celebrates, Educates Florida Direct Care Workers

Terry Bucher (L, with FPACG President Joan Leah) was honored for 15 years with FPACG.

“This was my first time here and I really enjoyed myself. I will be back next year,” said CNA Anita Cross of Lake County of the Florida Professional Association for Care Givers’ 17th annual convention, which was held on October 16 in Altamonte Springs. Our conference was a great success, drawing direct care workers from 11 counties.

We started out with a day of classes before the convention to help CNAs who are renewing their licenses cover all their mandated topics, including CPR and computer skills. That day ended with a Care Givers recognition dinner, where we celebrated the contributions made every day by caregivers.

We also recognized Care Giver of the Year Carolyn Gay, our first winner to be nominated by a member of her own family.

Continue reading »

Arizona Direct Care Workers Get Education, Inspiration at Annual Conference

Posted by on October 15th, 2012 at 10:38 pm | 2 Comments »

“The seminar about delirium was very helpful, since it hit close to home and gave me a better understanding on what to look out for,” says Ramona Quiroga-Bowser. “The other seminars were great also—especially the keynote speaker at lunch!”

Ramona was one of about 100 direct care workers who attended the fifth annual Arizona direct care worker conference and celebration on October 10. The conference was hosted by the Arizona Direct Care Worker Association and Arizona Gerontological Nursing Association. Continue reading »

Florida Caregivers to Walk a Mile in Clients’ Shoes

Posted by on September 11th, 2012 at 8:11 am | Comments Off on Florida Caregivers to Walk a Mile in Clients’ Shoes

CNA/HHA and FPACG President Joan Leah

Florida caregivers can expand their knowledge, meet other people in their field, and feel celebrated as the professionals they are at the 17th annual convention of the Florida Professional Association of Care Givers (FPACG) next month. The convention will be held on October 16 in Altamonte Springs.

In keeping with this year’s theme, Walk A Mile In My Shoes, the event will provide several opportunities for direct care workers to see things from the perspective of the people they assist. In her keynote address, Dr. Lisa Brown, a clinical psychologist who teaches in the School of Aging Studies at the University of Tampa, will explore the strengths and weaknesses of aging. In an afternoon session, attendees will have an opportunity to experience how it feels to lose your senses such as eyesight and hearing and how it feels to use durable equipment like wheelchairs. Those who attend this session will also learn skills to help maximize the comfort for those they care for.  Continue reading »

Upcoming Conference Hosted by and for Wisconsin Caregivers

Posted by on August 27th, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Comments Off on Upcoming Conference Hosted by and for Wisconsin Caregivers

Tracy Dudzinski

The Wisconsin Direct Caregiver Alliance is excited to announce its third annual conference, which will be held on September 6 and 7 at the Wintergreen resort and conference center in Wisconsin Dells.  Our conference is put on by direct care workers for direct care workers. Our aim is to educate direct care workers, give ourselves an opportunity to meet and learn from one another, and strengthen our leadership and advocacy skills.

This year, we’re emphasizing three sides of care: caring for yourself, for your consumers, and for your profession.  After an evening of networking and refreshments, we’ll start the educational part of the conference on Friday morning. Dr. Ann Polar, who has trained thousands of direct care workers and other health care professionals, will provide a new perspective on professional boundaries in her keynote address.  Continue reading »

Open Door vs. Revolving Door: How to Retain DCWs

Posted by 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.

Harry Graham

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 »

Houston Partnership Honors, Educates Direct Care Workers

Posted by on April 3rd, 2012 at 10:31 am | Comments Off on Houston Partnership Honors, Educates Direct Care Workers

Attendees of the Hearts at Work conference

Last week, I got to visit with a group of direct care workers in Houston, Texas, when I was invited to present at the 15th annual Hearts at Work conference. I also learned about the workforce development initiatives that go on in Houston during the rest of the year.

The purpose of the conference is to thank direct care workers for their work and dedication to the field and to enhance their skills. More than 160 direct care workers were there, all from Houston and the surrounding areas. I spoke to CNAs from long-term care facilities, home health aides, and hospice aides. Thanks to the support of the Harris County Area Agency on Aging, the conference is free to attendees.

I attended several wonderful sessions before my own presentation, which was on leadership training and how direct care workers can advocate for themselves.  Continue reading »

Conference Inspires and Informs Florida Caregivers

Posted by on October 25th, 2011 at 3:01 am | 1 Comment »
FPACG 2011 conference attendees

Conference attendees with door prizes

The 16th annual Florida Professional Association of Care Givers (FPACG) conference, which was co-sponsored this year by DCA, was inspirational from the start. After a welcome and invocation by CNA/HHA Rita Andrews and CNA/HHA Nancy Strebel, the Air Force junior ROTC from Lake Brantley High School presented the colors. What a thing that was to witness! Next on the agenda was the presentation of awards by FPACG President Emeritus and Director of Education Terry Bucher to FPACG’s Career Care Giver of the Year and its two Care Givers of the Year. This was the first time in the history of the association that the award was given to two people in one year. Continue reading »

Wisconsin Honors Exceptional Direct Care Workers and Employers

Posted by on October 4th, 2011 at 8:23 am | 1 Comment »

Tracy Dudzinski

Every year here in Wisconsin we honor four direct care workers, one supervisor of direct care workers, and one administrator in long term care. I was honored to present the awards last week to my fellow direct care workers.

I got to visit with most of the winners before the presentation, which was at a luncheon at the Wisconsin Personal Services Association conference. Vivian Havens has been a direct care worker for 45 years, 25 of which have been for her current employer. She is 80 years old. I call that dedication. Continue reading »

Care, Commitment and Coffee with Muhanna S. Kakish of Minnesota

Posted by on July 12th, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Comments Off on Care, Commitment and Coffee with Muhanna S. Kakish of Minnesota

At the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training, DCA communications director, Josh Sabato sat down to speak with direct care worker, Muhanna S. Kakish to discuss the most pressing issues facing direct care workers and how other activists can get involved in direct care advocacy in Minnesota.  DCA Speaks with Muhanna S. Kakish at 2011 Voices Institute Training.

Care, Commitment and Coffee with Jimmie Chandler of Maine!

Posted by on June 20th, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Comments Off on Care, Commitment and Coffee with Jimmie Chandler of Maine!

At the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training, DCA communications director, Josh Sabato sat down to speak with direct care worker, Jimmie Chandler to discuss the most pressing issues facing direct care workers and how other activists can get involved in direct care advocacy in Maine.  DCA Speaks with Jimmie Chandler at 2011 Voices Institute Training.

The National Voices Institute Experience – Part III

Posted by on May 16th, 2011 at 4:24 pm | 2 Comments »


Joan Leah

My colleagues and I just completed the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training Program! It was a very intense, yet rewarding learning experience and I am honored to have graduated with some of the finest people I have ever met. The investment that has been made by the DCA in this 2011 class is significant and it is now our responsibility to take the next steps to ensure our collective voices are being heard across the country.  I have been armed with the tools necessary to advocate for the desperately needed changes to our long term care system, and I am fully focused on stepping up to the challenge of helping to create a more stable direct care workforce throughout Florida. Continue reading »

2011 DCA Voices Institute Training a Smashing Success!

Posted by on May 16th, 2011 at 4:23 pm | 1 Comment »


Tracy Dudzinski

Another VI class has come and gone and what a week it was!  First off, I would like to thank all the workers who took the time to come to Wisconsin and develop their leadership skills.  It was a wonderfully diverse group filled with the talented and inspiring people our movement needs to be successful in the coming weeks, months and years.

The 2011 Voices Institute was a full circle moment for me.  I attended in 2008 as a worker and was privileged to come back this year and have the opportunity to expand my leadership skills as a facilitator.  When I arrived on Saturday and walked in the front door of Taylor Hall the memories overtook me.  It was like I was back in 2008 arriving as a student and I couldn’t wait to get started!  It was an exciting week and I enjoyed watching the new class find their voice.  Although some of our attendees were quiet at the beginning of our training, by the end of the week they blossomed like the magnolia tree in the garden, turning into the leaders who will expand this movement in all corners of the country.

Continue reading »