Archive for ‘immigration’

DCA to Speak About Direct Care Workers at D.C. Briefing

Posted by 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

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 »

The State of Direct Care Workers

Posted by on February 11th, 2014 at 12:16 pm | Comments Off on The State of Direct Care Workers
Carla D. Washington

Carla D. Washington

“Everyone seems to agree, as the President emphasized several times in his State of the Union address, that people who work full-time should not live in poverty,” writes Direct Care Alliance Executive Director Carla Washington in the Huffington Post. But for far too many direct care workers, she goes on, “hard work does not pay off, except in the satisfaction it gives them and the relationships they form with the people they assist.”

In The State of the Direct Care Worker,  Washington writes about how helping to improve wages and benefits for direct care workers, one of the nation’s poorest paid and fastest-growing workforces, is a powerful way to achieve goals the President outlined in his State of the Union Address–things like narrowing the income gap and making progress toward allowing everyone who works hard to share in the fruits of the American dream.

Why My Husband Wishes I’d Choose a Different Profession

Posted by on January 28th, 2013 at 7:02 pm | 2 Comments »

Gabriele Swe (standing) with a client.

I have been a direct care worker for about 10 years. I truly believe we make a difference in the lives of elders and the sick. I love my work and I get paid well for it, but I don’t get paid sick time or paid holidays.

I came here from Germany when I was 25. I didn’t speak any English. I was married to a military man, who brought me here. At first, I just took care of my husband and my house. I volunteered at a thrift shop just to get out, but I was very shy and always worried that I would say the wrong thing.

Then I got divorced and moved to Seattle. I started in a warehouse because I didn’t speak English well. Then I was hired by a large eye care company, where I was promoted to Quality Control Technician until the company moved out of state.

I went to a retraining center, where they tested me and suggested becoming a patient care technician. I always liked working with people, and I really love elderly people—I was 11 or 12 when my grandmother passed away, and up to then I was always with her, even when she was really ill. So I went into the PCT program and then went to work in a nursing home. Continue reading »

Direct Care Work and the Circle of Life

Posted by on September 4th, 2012 at 7:27 am | 1 Comment »

Fermina Lopez

I was born in Sinaloa, Mexico, where I lived until about 20 years ago. I was an accountant there, working as the administrative manager for a supermarket.

I came here for the American dream, to make a better life for my family. I have five children. Almost as soon as I started working here I earned more than I ever had.

It was hard to find a job when we first came here. I had to take the thing I could get, and the first thing I got was direct care work. I had been helping a friend when I realized I could get paid for doing the same kind of work for other people. I had two jobs: as a caregiver and as a seamstress.

My goal at the time was to go to college and get a good education so I could get the kind of job I had had back in Mexico, but as time passed and I kept working as a caregiver, I started loving my job. You get so involved with the people you care for. I don’t want to leave them.  Continue reading »

Finding My Home in the U.S. through Home Care

Posted by on April 17th, 2012 at 9:39 am | Comments Off on Finding My Home in the U.S. through Home Care

Elizabeth Castillo

I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, and then I lived for a while in Ciudad Juarez. I moved to El Paso in 1991. I’m an American citizen now, and I like being here better, but I love Mexico too. On every corner is a little store where we can buy tortillas and whatever else we need, and outside there are people everywhere, and everybody knows everybody. Here nobody is outside on the street.

Maybe that’s why I love my job. I love people, helping them and talking to them, and that’s what I do all day now as a home care worker.

Before I started doing this, I thought it would just be changing diapers. I had helped my sister take care of my mom and dad, and I loved them because they were my mom and dad. Then a friend asked if I wanted to come work with her taking care of other old people, and I said no way.  Continue reading »

What My Culture Taught Me About Caregiving

Posted by on March 4th, 2012 at 12:37 pm | 3 Comments »

Mohan Varghese

In India, where I am from, it is common for children to take care of the aging parents who took care of them when they were young. Parents generally stay with their eldest son, while daughters move away to live with their husbands and the husbands’ families when they get married.

My responsibilities grew in a matter of few days at the age of 18, when my father came home after his first hospitalization after a stroke. As the eldest male in the family, it was my duty to take care of the family and bring home the bacon, so I quit my job with the Merchant Marine and moved back home.  Continue reading »

My Group Home Away from Home

Posted by on February 13th, 2012 at 9:13 pm | 2 Comments »

Dorcas Sumba

I came to this country in 2000 from Nairobi, Kenya, with my then-husband, who went to graduate school at the University of Arizona. I’ve been here in Tucson ever since.

I’ve worked at the same place ever since I arrived, too. It’s a small group home for people with developmental disabilities. I applied for a job there when I first got here because some people we met here who were also from Kenya said it was a good place to work. I started as a direct care worker, and after six years I was promoted to assistant house manager. I am also the lead staff and medical advocate for the home. I still do direct care work, but now I also supervise other direct care workers part of the time. Continue reading »

To be a home care worker…and a recent immigrant

Posted by on April 26th, 2010 at 10:41 am | 1 Comment »

As an advocate for home care workers in the heart of the Los Angeles immigrant community, I work with hundreds of immigrant home care workers in my role as a leader and Associate Director of the Pilipino Workers Center (PWC). I attended a meeting in Houston from April 14-15, 2010, organized by the Department of Labor Office of Safety and Health Administration (DOL-OSHA), where Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis spoke about safety in the workplace. Immigration was a topic of the discussion as well, given that so many workers who face labor safety issues are recent immigrants to America. “Working without papers may be against the law, but it is NOT A DEATH SENTENCE!” said Secretary Solis. DOL statistics reveal that 14 immigrants die each day in the U.S. because of unsafe working conditions. Caregivers are among them.


Continue reading »

I Don’t Do this Job to Win an Award – But It Sure Feels Good to Get One

Posted by on January 19th, 2010 at 2:28 pm | 10 Comments »

Timothy Doe

You must first be a believer if you would be an achiever.

Late last year, something happened that humbled me more than anything else in the five years that I’ve worked at the Catholic Community Services (CCS) Community Living Program in Tucson: I was chosen as our 2009-2010 Employee of the Year.

I have been assisting people with disabilities since I was in high school. I do this work because I love it, to accomplish goals, and to feel that I am contributing to something. I usually don’t feel as if anyone other than the person I am assisting is aware of what I do. If you’d asked me about that, I would have said it didn’t matter, but this award has made me realize how good it feels to have your work acknowledged.

It has also made me think about the road that led me to this profession that I love. Continue reading »