Posted by Direct Care Alliance 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 families. Continue reading »
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 Shelly McDowell-Porter on September 25th, 2014 at 3:30 am | 4 Comments »
Shelly S. McDowell-Porter
Greetings! I am the proud daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, and friend of many direct care paraprofessionals (DCPs), the term I am using for my PhD project on frontline workers such as home health attendants, home health aides, certified nursing assistants, and personal care assistants. I am also a licensed clinical social worker and a PhD student at the Howard University School of Social Work in Washington D.C. If you are a direct care worker, I need your help to complete a survey on client-Inflicted workplace violence for my doctoral thesis.
My doctoral research is a tribute to the women in my family, who did the hard work of caring for others in order to care for their loved ones. It focuses on client-inflicted workplace violence, the victimization of DCPs at the hands of their clients or their client’s family members. Workplace violence comes in many forms, including (but not limited to) physical assault, sexual assault, verbal abuse, and emotional abuse. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance 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 »
Posted by Patricia Buckley on September 3rd, 2014 at 3:24 pm | Comments Off on Surveying Workplace Hazards for Home Care Workers
Most Americans can go to work each day with confidence because their workplace is regulated for safety, but this is not the case for those who work in a private home. There are currently no provisions to address workplace safety for home care workers, and that makes it difficult to create a stable and predictable work environment. No wonder home health care and personal care always rank among the occupations with the highest rates of job-related injuries on Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.
An unsafe workplace not only endangers the aides who work there but undermines their ability to support the client. For example, home care workers often face scenarios like this: Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on August 15th, 2014 at 9:35 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News
A new rule proposed by the U.S. Department of Labor would raise the minimum wage for VA hospital CNAs and other federal contractors to $10.10 an hour.
A new guidance and updated fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Labor help states make sure home care workers are paid fairly under the minimum wage and overtime rule.
Another excellent editorial from the New York Times on why U.S. Department of Labor must resist pressure to delay implementing the minimum wage and overtime rule for home care workers.
Home care worker Maureen Lewis on why we must improve the lives of the next generation by improving wages for direct care workers. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on June 23rd, 2014 at 10:09 am | 21 Comments »
Dear Friend of DCA,
With your support, Direct Care Alliance has been the national advocacy voice of direct care workers for almost ten years. We can all be proud of what we have accomplished together.
Inspired by the vision of former Executive Director Leonila Vega, we built a nationwide advocacy network of direct care workers through the Voices Institute and other means. These worker leaders are eloquent about the value of their work and have a passion for improving our system of long-term services and supports.
We influenced legislation and regulation, taking important steps at the state and federal level to improve the health and economic security of direct care workers, invest in the workforce and enhance training and advancement opportunities. A key recent victory was the final home care rule extending basic labor protections–including federal minimum wage and overtime pay–to home care workers nationwide.
We developed a national credentialing program that is an important step toward building recognition of personal care work. We assisted many direct care workers in finding health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. We also provided technical and financial assistance to direct care worker state associations.
Unfortunately, the world has changed, and our income has decreased every year. The board has grappled with this over the years, trying to trim costs while maintaining services and supports for workers, but we don’t have enough funding to continue operating. We regretfully inform you that DCA staff operations will cease and our offices in Washington, DC and New York will close by June 30. Continue reading »
Posted by Carla Washington 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
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 »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance 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 »
Posted by Sonya Huber 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.
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 »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance 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 TalkPoverty.org 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 »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance 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).
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 »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance 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 »
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 John Booker on May 10th, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Comments Off on Caregivers in Need of Care Often Make the Ultimate Sacrifice
Every day millions of direct care workers, nurses and family caregivers work tirelessly to serve and assist those in need of their services. Unfortunately, many of these same caregivers are now in need of the care and assistance that they were trained to give to others. Some of them have worked so hard for so long that they are literally dying on the job.
With all the obstacles that presently stand in the way of the delivery of quality care, such as wages, benefits, and finding the proper definition for workers, there is larger obstacle looming on the horizon: Workers who have are ill and injured themselves, but must continue to work. Many return early to work after serious injuries because there is not enough to make ends meet or they have been threatened about the loss of their job.
Continue reading »