Archive for ‘poems by DCWs’

Craig Retires from the Day Activity Center

Posted by on October 2nd, 2014 at 2:13 pm | Comments Off on Craig Retires from the Day Activity Center
David Moreau

David Moreau

Craig played ball for Camden,

starting varsity senior year.

He told me he got good when he learned to slow down

and could see the whole court.


I wish he could have transferred that skill

to the Day Activity Center where he worked

eighteen years with ferocious love,

but was always getting whistled

for reaching in or charging. Continue reading »

For My Friend Jack Who Has Cerebral Palsy and Lives in a Nursing Home

Posted by on February 24th, 2014 at 12:35 pm | 1 Comment »
David Moreau

David Moreau

If I were you this is what I’d say

There was a lack of oxygen at my birth.

My mom and dad were good to me growing up.

As a young man I was put in a bad place once,

but now I have a life we share together

at Clover Manor. Continue reading »

Poem for Direct Care Alliance

Posted by on November 4th, 2013 at 2:38 pm | 3 Comments »
David Moreau

David Moreau

David read this poem during a conference call hosted by DCA on October 28 to celebrate the final rule that extends Fair Labor Standards Act protections to home care workers.

I have helped you bathe and helped you eat.

I have helped you take your meds and get back on your feet.

I have taken your vital signs and listened to your stories.

I have made it possible for you to stay in your home.

I have seen you confused, aged, injured and ill

And I helped you through your day with dignity.

And if not you — your mother, brother, neighbor or lover.

For all of us need a helping hand some day. Continue reading »


Posted by on July 15th, 2013 at 3:09 pm | 1 Comment »
David Moreau

David Moreau

Stefani got her trach out, which is good news,

but now she no longer needs nursing care

and is going to lose her home placement –

and day program as well.


She’s pretty upset about it.  And I’m upset too.

She’s been good with Toby,

who follows her like a puppy,

but she likes him and can tell him,

“Toby, I need my space now,”

unlike Fay who gets upset and needs

someone to step in between them.

Continue reading »

How to Make the World a Better Place

Posted by on April 8th, 2013 at 9:10 pm | Comments Off on How to Make the World a Better Place
David Moreau

David Moreau

Toby stands at the door of the red Dodge van

holding the field trip bag in one hand and five

matchbox cars in the other, including the well-loved

number three black Chevy Dale Earnhardt car.

You wait for him to open the door.


He tugs on the handle a couple of times,

but can’t get a grip with the cars in his hand.

At this point if he were to ask for help

you would help, for asking is a good thing

and the words don’t come easy to him. Continue reading »

This Little Light of Mine

Posted by on January 22nd, 2013 at 9:01 am | 1 Comment »

David Moreau

My friend Toby loves to sing This Old Man.

Over and over arms waving

down the hallway and into the cafeteria

and back again twice,



the words loud and not quite right.  Continue reading »

The Ability to Love at the Day Activity Center (for Dave H)

Posted by on August 7th, 2012 at 8:33 am | 2 Comments »

David Moreau

In the back building on Sabattus St.,

I used to think your eyes were like the eyes

of God, welcoming, attentive, bemused.

You needed those eyes, for though you could

whip your head around when a pretty girl

came in the room, that was all you could move

and your eyes were your arms, legs, hands

and voice.  I’d hold two fingers in front of you

and you looked.   Yankees – Red Sox?

Democrats – Republicans?  Recliner by the window –

wheelchair at the table?  Continue reading »

Bright, Bright, Bright Sunshiny Day

Posted by on March 13th, 2012 at 10:17 am | 1 Comment »

David Moreau

Toby races through the building

and I’m supposed to keep up.

That’s the way it’s always been.

He gets a two, three minute head start

if I’m helping lift Jean-Paul

or still assigned a lunch table

and if I don’t track him down quickly

and he grabs stuff off someone’s desk,

or marks up the bulletin board

or gets Sophie upset patting her head

then I’m to blame. We do it this way

so other staff don’t have to deal with him. Continue reading »

What We Know About Each Other

Posted by on January 24th, 2012 at 10:39 am | Comments Off on What We Know About Each Other

David Moreau

Toby won’t go in the auditorium

for the noonday concert

so Ellie takes Donnie and Melinda

while Toby and I wait in the hallway.

When you’re ready, I tell him,

as calmly as I can because I

really want to hear the Schubert concerto.

Toby sits cross-legged on the floor,

rocking contentedly

and we hear the piano softly

on the other side of the wall.  Continue reading »

Poems by Direct Care Workers: A Direct Care Worker Teaches the World to Love

Posted by on December 12th, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Comments Off on Poems by Direct Care Workers: A Direct Care Worker Teaches the World to Love

David Moreau

She knows how to turn your mother’s body
to slide the wet Attends from under her,
to clean her peri area, so the skin does not turn red
and every day your mother tells her the same story -
she saw Yul Brynner in the King and I on her honeymoon
and every day the direct care worker
this frail packet of bones
a young woman amazed by the bright lights
and her new life.

Later she finds herself singing,
getting to know you, getting to know all about you…
and its comforting
enough to make it through her shift.

Waiting for my Care Angel

Posted by on May 31st, 2011 at 3:42 pm | 2 Comments »

Joan Leah

The following poem was contributed by Joan Leah

Nights and days blend together as I wait for your care

Without you I would simply sit and stare

My hands are wrinkled and riddled with pain

Once I could care for myself, I still try but in vain

I try to sleep so the time goes by

I stare at pictures and begin to cry

Continue reading »

Why I Took This Job

Posted by on May 24th, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Comments Off on Why I Took This Job

Toby and Donnie go to the library

with me on Friday.

Toby asks for a book on NASCAR

and looks for pictures of crashes

while Donnie talks to everyone.

I’m trying to get him to Say hi and move on

and usually he’s okay with that

but sometimes I have to peel him off

strangers who he’s asking to marry. Continue reading »

Poems by Direct Care Workers: A pretty good field trip

Posted by on February 22nd, 2011 at 11:53 am | Comments Off on Poems by Direct Care Workers: A pretty good field trip

David Moreau

Ellie and I take Donnie, Leo, Noelle and Roland

to the college for the noon day concert.

We get there early and walk around the pond

and the ducks swim toward us looking for bread.

All we give them is a song, The one little duck

with the feather on his back, he led the others

with a quack, quack, quack.

There’s a group coming from the other direction

and they’re like a mirror image of  us –

a friendly young man with downs syndrome

high fives Donnie, two staff push people

in wheelchairs, an elderly man shuffles and repeats,

Warm, warm, and a tiny woman holding up a yellow purse

beams, I got it at the Christmas Tree Shop.

The staff don’t shout, remember circles,

but greet us with where you from?

And  beautiful day, eh? Everyone gets to talk

and I don’t hear anyone telling anyone else

what’s appropriate and what’s not.

After a couple of minutes we negotiate four people

in wheelchairs passing on the sidewalk, wave

and say, see ya. Continue reading »

How Taking Out the Trash Reminded Me Why I Love My Job

Posted by on January 24th, 2011 at 12:42 pm | 2 Comments »

David Moreau


Say it, Melinda, Marge says. She is a staff person and Melinda is one of the participants assigned to her. Marge is sitting at the front table doing her tracking after lunch while Melinda strings beads like she did all morning, and repeats,


Oh, that’s pretty funny, Ellie, another staff person, says. What happens when she says that at home tonight? They have this conversation right in front of Melinda, who likes to say Ellie’s name.  She says it a lot.  It must sound good to her. Ellie usually puts up with it.  But today she said it was driving her crazy, which caused Marge to start rousting Melinda. Continue reading »

Ringing in 2011: Inspiring Yourself and Each Other

Posted by on January 5th, 2011 at 3:35 pm | 3 Comments »

Tina Tilley

A few years ago, I was offered a position at another company.  I had to make a decision whether to stay with my current job or to take the leap and accept the new position I was being offered.  From the outside, it was pretty much a no-brainer.  The new position was offering much better pay, better hours, and better benefits.  As much as I loved my job, I felt like I had to take the new position.

So I made that horrible drive to my work to put in my two weeks notice.  I told my manager, who in turn called her boss, who then asked to speak to me on the phone.  This was one of those moments I can point to in my life where I can honestly say, “That moment changed everything.”

Her words were few, but they had lasting impact.  She told me that she believed in me.  She told me that she knew what a hard worker I was, she saw the love and care I had for our residents, and she believed I could go anywhere I wanted to in the company if I just hung in there for a while.  I thanked her, and we hung up.

I put my two weeks notice in writing and handed it to my manager.  On the drive home, I called her and asked her to hold onto it for a while before she turned it into HR.  The next morning, I called and asked her to rip it up.

The truth is, I was looking for a reason to stay.  I had grown to love my residents like family and my job meant more to me than just the money.  But I needed to know that I was a valued asset to the company.

In the less than two years since those events transpired, I was made Assistant Manager of that particular home, and then this past September I was asked to manage a brand new home my company was opening.  None of which would’ve happened without the positive reinforcement instilled in me by a well-respected supervisor.

Making the transition from regular staff to management has been both eye-opening and exciting.  I now have the opportunity to instill the principles of positive reinforcement into my own staff and to listen to them as they tell me of their past experiences.  Between this and also the many responses I have received from my letter to the editor (which can be found here: ) the general consensus amongst Direct Care Workers is that most feel unappreciated, under-valued, and easily replaceable by their superiors.  Could this be a contributing factor to the outrageous statistic that 11% of those employed in caretaking roles are diagnosed with major depression?  (source:;next )  That is the highest amongst any other career choice!

How sad that in a profession that is all about caring for those who cannot care for themselves, the caretakers feel uncared for.  Whether it be by the State, by the company we work for, by the people we serve and their families, or by our co-workers, it is imperative that we appreciate and understand one another.

As we head into this new year, why don’t we make a New Year’s resolution to stay positive about the extremely important work that we do?

Here are a few things to try to help lighten your load in the coming year:

1)  Laugh –  Laugh a LOT.  In our profession, seeing humor in the strangest of situations is essential to the well-being of our mental health Continue reading »

Poems by Direct Care Workers: My Aunt’s Repeat Story About My Mother

Posted by on November 1st, 2010 at 10:55 am | Comments Off on Poems by Direct Care Workers: My Aunt’s Repeat Story About My Mother

On the surface, this poem has nothing to do with work. But my mother would have been a good direct care worker. She would have known that any system of care needs to include everyone.

My Aunt’s Repeat Story About My Mother

Ruth Tiernan once took thirteen kids
in one car swimming at Cobbet’s Pond.
It was a hot day in Nashua, New Hampshire,
July, nineteen-fifty. She was sixteen
and had just gotten her driver’s license.
Grandpa Tiernan had just bought the family’s first car,
a 1939 Plymouth with the stick on the floor,
and he let her take it, which surprises me,
for I remember him an old man, always mad
at us kids for tromping up the stairs.
But they remember him giving them all he could.

My mother hollered, anyone want to go swimming
get your bathing suit!

and whoosh there were eleven kids at the car
in less than a minute. Let me tell you it’s tough
when you’re sitting three deep in the back seat
my Aunt Clara says.
Continue reading »

Finding the Power Within Ourselves: From the Pennsylvania Conference

Posted by on September 21st, 2010 at 1:43 pm | 1 Comment »

After the dreaming, scheduling and registering; all the e-mails and phone calls; the finding a place to meet and people to teach and share; the keeping fingers crossed that enough direct care workers could actually take a day off and attend a conference that we all badly need; the baking of cupcakes for the welcoming reception and the braving of the Philadelphia traffic to pick up speakers at the airport…after all this work and more, the Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association’s 6th annual conference took place on September 16th at the National Christian Conference Center outside of Valley Forge.

It was worth it.

It was worth it to listen to each other…the CNAs, the home health aides, the hospice workers, the group home and the day program staff…the people supporting people with dementia, developmental disabilities and mental illness. That is who we are. It’s a good group to be a part of.

I was the keynote speaker and read poems about Leo, Lorna and Louise. I’ve been a direct care worker since Jimmy Carter was president and have learned a lot from the people I support.

Continue reading »

Poems from Direct Care Workers: We Are Family

Posted by on July 19th, 2010 at 9:36 am | Comments Off on Poems from Direct Care Workers: We Are Family

David Moreau

The staff from Practical Life Skills keeps
a pretty tight lid on Thursday’s music group
in the big cafeteria. No one’s allowed past the tape
three feet in front of the sound system.
The guys from our room don’t get to use
the microphone and because of fire regulations
they insist we have to have a staff person
for every participant who’s in a wheelchair.
Freddie always sings YMCA and Tony
Who Let the Dogs Out? Then Gracie belts
Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy, in that order. Continue reading »

Poems by Direct Care Workers: Small Potatoes

Posted by on May 10th, 2010 at 8:44 am | 1 Comment »

David Moreau

The girls have been talking shopping
a LOT lately, poring over the sales ads
in the Sun-Journal every morning,
while Jean-Paul sits with his coat on.
It’s, Penney’s has Levi’s less than thirty dollars,
and, TJ Maxx is good for Aerapostale.
It’s Best Buy vs. Wal-Mart, and who
shops at K-Mart anyway

I used to get away with saying stuff like,
The Christmas Tree Shop’s so convenient.
They took a bunch of crap I’d never buy
and put it all in one place so it’s easy
to stay away from
. But we’re not
getting along so well right now
and I don’t say anything. Continue reading »