Archive for ‘respect’

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 »

Home Care Workers Rising

Posted by on October 14th, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Comments Off on Home Care Workers Rising

forest of signs 2The 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 »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on September 15th, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

Maine needs to increase reimbursement rates and give us direct care workers a raise, says Helen Hanson in a Bangor Daily News editorial.

How negative public attitudes toward direct care work can damage workers’ morale and self-image.

Not just anyone can do direct care work, says a striking worker: “It takes a very long time to understand how to work with very complex people with very complex needs.”

A strong op-ed on what’s wrong with Britain’s “zero-hour” home care contracts, which offer workers no protection and no guaranteed hours.

With a statewide average wage of $8.60 an hour, home care workers in Missouri are calling for higher wages.

An ethics instructor considers what fair pay for home care workers would look like—and why we need to make it happen.

This video for NADSP’s Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week (September 7-13) celebrates the work done by DSPs.

Professors Lisa Dodson and Nancy Folbre on why the Supreme Court’s Harris v. Quinn decision will hurt home care consumers.

Continue reading »

Celebrate National Nursing Assistants Week by Giving R-E-S-P-E-C-T Year-Round

Posted by on June 17th, 2014 at 11:42 am | Comments Off on Celebrate National Nursing Assistants Week by Giving R-E-S-P-E-C-T Year-Round

Read this editorial on Huffington Post

Carla Washington

Carla Washington

If you talk to direct care workers about what they do for a living, you will discover within the first five minutes of your conversation that they are proud of the care they provide. Talk to them a little longer and you will probably also hear how conflicted they are about their work, largely because of how underappreciated and disrespected it is by the rest of us.

Growing up I can vividly recall my mother, a 30-year career CNA (now retired), exemplifying that dichotomy when she spoke to me and my brothers about her work. While she certainly enjoyed the care side of direct care work, I could hear the disappointment in her voice when she talked about how the work she and fellow direct care workers provided was rarely appreciated or talked about with respect by others within the nursing home and VA hospital she worked at.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on June 16th, 2014 at 10:16 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

Punitive managers and overreliance on rigid rules foster bad patterns of interaction in nursing homes, harming resident care and staff satisfaction—but there are methods managers can use to encourage positive interactions between staff.

Delay the minimum wage and overtime rule for home care workers even longer? Home care workers deserve better, and so do consumers.

Watch Respect: The Joy of Aides, a wonderful 20-minute documentary by Eva Sweeney, a woman with CP, about how to hire and manage aides and what it’s like when a direct care worker and a client work well together.

Good news for home care worker wages: a 5% pay raise in Minnesota, home care workers fighting for fair wages all across America, and rallies in Cleveland and Boston, where home care workers are calling for a $15 minimum wage for their profession.  Continue reading »

Why I Loved Direct Care Work, and Why I Quit It

Posted by on May 29th, 2014 at 9:59 pm | Comments Off on Why I Loved Direct Care Work, and Why I Quit It

Sonya Huber is a former direct care worker and the author of Two Eyes Are Never Enough: A Minimum Wage Memoir, an e-book about her experiences in the field.

Sonya Huber

Sonya Huber

Direct care work, in one sense, made me feel like a rock star. When a stranger asked me what I did for a living, and I said, “I work in a facility for emotionally troubled teenagers,” the response was often: “Wow, that’s so great.” No other job I’ve ever done—and I’ve sampled dozens—has ever netted me such a consistent response.

And the job was great, for all the reasons these strangers guessed. It was important work that pulled my heart and soul and body into the huge effort required each day. It was clear as I started a shift at the residential center that I would be challenged and that I would have the chance to help young people in crisis.

I think part of the awed response to these direct care positions comes from the urge that everyone has to do meaningful work. Many people have jobs that don’t feel meaningful to them, and those people fantasize about leaving a position to make a difference. Most people respect a job where, at the end of the day, you can clearly point to a crisis you helped solve or a person in pain who you helped comfort.

It’s mysterious and tragic that the respect we have on a one-to-one basis for meaningful jobs doesn’t translate to respect for an industry or a whole category of employees: the group of direct care workers.
The lack of respect results in things like low wages and stressful working conditions.

That, ultimately, was why I left direct care. Continue reading »

How to Improve Elder Care

Posted by 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.

What Older Americans Really Need

Posted by on May 5th, 2014 at 1:58 pm | Comments Off on What Older Americans Really Need
Jessica Brill Ortiz

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.

Why It’s Crucial to Make the Link Between Better Jobs and Better Care

Posted by on May 5th, 2014 at 1:51 pm | 3 Comments »

Deborah Little is the chair of the Sociology department at Adelphi University. Her chapter in Caring on the Clock, a book on direct care work that is due out this fall from Rutgers, looks at DCA’s work to support and empower direct care worker advocates. She recently talked to DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian about what strategies are most effective and why.

Voices Institute students at work with an instructor (far left).

Voices Institute students at work with an instructor (far left).

What got you interested in this topic?

I was hired by DCA to do an evaluation of the pilot senior CNA project that started three years ago. As part of that, Leonila [Vega] invited me to attend a national Voices Institute in Wisconsin, because five participants from the senior CNA project attended that year. At the Voices Institute, I got very interested in the organizing and empowerment work that DCA was doing. I took extensive field notes during the Voices Institute, and spent a lot of time speaking with participants in informal interviews. After that, I expanded my research to look at the DCA blog and the literature on organizing direct care workers.

What got me interested in this topic was a moment that I talk about at the beginning of the paper, where one of the workers at the Voices Institute was willing to give up a wage increase because she thought it would be difficult for her clients to afford the extra cost. I thought, how can this be? How can she not readily see the connection between the quality of her job and the quality of the care she is giving? And how can she be so willing to sacrifice her own needs and the needs of her family? Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on May 5th, 2014 at 10:23 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

An Older Americans Month toolkit from Eldercare Workforce Alliance helps journalists and other stakeholders find publications, programs, and personal stories that focus on the health and safety of older Americans from EWA member organizations—including DCA.

“Home care services are among the most important work there is, and if we want it to be done well, dedicated home care workers should be compensated at a level that reflects their commitment and skills,” says an editorial in Maine’s Portland Press-Herald.

Vermont home care workers have reached a tentative agreement with the state that includes significant raises and an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

An excellent new publication from Center for Law and Social Policy explains a crucial but often overlooked part of compensation: direct care workers and other low-income workers are far less likely to get paid leave than higher-wage workers. The brief describes recent and pending laws and policies aimed at leveling the paid time off playing field.

Want to know how to find and keep good direct care workers? Higher pay attracts talented staff, this study finds, but that alone is not enough. To keep them, you also need good working conditions.  Continue reading »

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 »

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 »

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.

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on January 28th, 2014 at 12:29 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

The U.S. economy does not value caregivers, writes Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic.

The text of a tweet chat about professional and family caregivers and direct care care consumers that was hosted last Wednesday by Caring Across Generations, DCA and family caregiver advocate Denise Brown.

A “good jobs” executive order could help direct care workers by setting standards for jobs paid for by government funding such as Medicare and Medicaid.

A Maryland direct care worker shares her experience and urges respect and a living wage for direct care workers.

Home health worker Theresa Johnson was among the SEIU members who visited the Indiana statehouse recently to urge their governor to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

A Family Member Thanks Her “Saving Grace,” Direct Care Workers

Posted by on January 13th, 2014 at 12:59 pm | Comments Off on A Family Member Thanks Her “Saving Grace,” Direct Care Workers
Erin Hayes

Erin Hayes

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.

Measuring What Makes a Good Direct Care Worker

Posted by on September 9th, 2013 at 5:26 pm | 1 Comment »

Georgia P. Ameia Yen-Patton is a gerontological nurse practitioner who recently completed a PhD in nursing. In this Q&A with DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian, she shares a tool she developed for nurse managers as part of her PhD thesis, explaining how it can be used to identify and strengthen the core values that distinguish good caregivers.

Ameia Yen-Patton

Ameia Yen-Patton

As you explained in your blog post for us last year, your PhD thesis is about the reciprocal ethical caring values that characterize long-time nursing assistants. You found that direct care workers who stay in this profession do it because they have a sense of purpose and like the feeling of helping the people they assist, is that right?

Yes. This is a very old principle. Every culture that exists on earth has this value of reciprocal ethical caring in relationships—it is what has allowed societies to sustain themselves over time—but somehow it gets lost in translation through industrial modernization. The direct care workers who see what they do as “just a job,” who often don’t stay very long, are unable to experience the value of reciprocal ethical caring. Reciprocal ethical caring is a human potential that we all have. However, in some people it has not been developed, while others express it strongly and spontaneously.

People with reciprocal ethical caring values believe in giving. They see that they gain a lot of rewards from their kinship with the people they work with and people that they care for. And they know there is a reason for every behavior–that we may not know the reason, but it’s important to understand that there is a reason and to treat everyone with respect and appreciation. Continue reading »

Why I Invest in DCA Memberships for My Direct Care Workers

Posted by on September 9th, 2013 at 5:26 pm | 1 Comment »
Judy Clinco

Judy Clinco

Direct care workers are the heart of my home care company. They come to the clients’ homes, tend to their personal daily needs, and form crucial, often close relationships with them. It is essential to the health of my business that my direct care workers be well-informed and confident, and that both they and the people they assist understand that they are professionals.

Part of being a professional is belonging to a professional association. That is why I give all my direct care workers a membership in Direct Care Alliance (DCA) as soon as they’ve passed their probationary period.

Being part of an association gives my home care workers the opportunity to network with other professionals, coming together with other dedicated direct workers to improve the community’s perception of their work and to advocate on behalf of their profession. Through DCA’s biweekly Direct Care News newsletter, they can stay informed about what’s happening to improve direct care jobs and the quality of long-term care, both nationwide and in our region. They also receive advance notification of opportunities to participate in leadership training through DCA’s Voices Institute.

Continue reading »

How I Became a Direct Care Worker Advocate

Posted by on August 12th, 2013 at 12:22 pm | 3 Comments »
Sunny Smith

Sunny Smith

I’ve worked as a professional direct care worker for more than 25 years, off and on (mostly on), between other jobs. In-home caregiving is where I’m most happy. I feel, as most of us do, that it’s a calling. But just because we love our work doesn’t mean we should have to live in poverty, go on food stamps or rely on Medicaid. We deserve basic benefits like paid sick time and affordable health care. Many of us are left out of those basic benefits due to a lack of understanding, appreciation and respect for our work. And, through no fault of our own, lack of training often causes safety issues for our clients and ourselves.

About five years ago, I was offered the opportunity to join the Arizona Direct Care Worker Association, a grassroots professional organization. I said yes immediately and wrote a check for a whopping $10 a year. You see, I knew what it means to be a part of an association. Yes, the benefits I now had access to were worthwhile, but more than that, I wanted to be part of a professional association just like any other professional, from nurses to attorneys to social workers. Continue reading »

Companionship Exemption Hurts CNAs Too

Posted by on July 15th, 2013 at 3:12 pm | 4 Comments »
Helen Hanson

Helen Hanson

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) was signed into law by Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 25, 1938. Roosevelt’s Secretary of Labor, Frances Perkins, the first woman to ever hold a seat as a presidential cabinet member, was the driving force behind a minimum wage, a 40 hour work week, and abolishing child labor. Secretary Perkins and President Roosevelt pushed for FLSA because they believed in a livable wage for a day’s work. Over the years, those labor protections have been expanded to more and more workers for the same reason every time — and the same reason President Obama gave in 2011 when he proposed to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers — “it’s the right thing to do.” Yet, home care workers continue to be excluded from these protections.

Continue reading »