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 Roberta Record on September 16th, 2014 at 1:45 pm | Comments Off on How My DCA Blog Post Won Me a Car
On 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.
Posted by David Moreau on July 31st, 2014 at 11:49 am | Comments Off on DCA Maine forms Partnership with Maine People’s Alliance
DCA Maine has a long history of empowering direct care workers to speak up and voice their concerns on issues regarding their work. Members have testified before legislative committees, spoken with our elected representatives in Congress and taken part in work groups and coalitions to improve the conditions of direct care work.
Notable successes include two grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); one for helping direct care workers to obtain health insurance through their employers and another for training direct care workers on core competencies so they can easily transfer from one population to another. We are also proud of being part of the campaign to remove the companionship exemption for home care workers from the Fair Labor Standards Act.
But a lot still needs to be done to create a world where direct care workers receive adequate pay, support and training to do the work we love. So when Direct Care Alliance let us know it had run out of out of funding, we looked for another group that could support our work. Continue reading »
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.
The following is an edited excerpt from a journal I kept in October 2004 about life as a home care worker in Augusta, Maine.
Two days ago, I pulled the ligament under my kneecap at a client’s home, catching my foot on a plastic rug. Then my car started to make “dentist drill” noises and my mechanics told me I needed to replace the pulleys on the alternator. I squeezed another 12 miles onto the odometer before I felt a change in the power steering, letting me know the alternator wasn’t doing its job. Welcome to the home care worker’s biggest nightmare: Lack of wheels!
I reflected on my need for transportation as I took a taxi to work yesterday. Basically, my car is used for business transportation. “Drive to work, work to drive,” as a friend used to say. To save money, I do all my errands on my way home from an elder’s house. Of the thousands of miles on my old car, I have probably logged about a thousand traveling for pleasure, usually to see family and friends. The rest were all spent driving to and from my clients’ homes. Continue reading »
Have you ever done a happy dance? Well I don’t dance, but I did a happy dance when I completed the enrollment process for health insurance through the new health care marketplace. It was frustrating at times, but the frustration was worth it because I finally have health insurance again!
I have had to deal with a lot of stress in the past in keeping my family insured through Badger Care, Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, as the children got older or the rules changed. I’ve also had my own struggles with maintaining health care coverage. For many years as a home care worker I qualified for Badger Care. Then I got a raise and was making $50 a month too much to qualify, so I had to switch to my employer’s insurance plan. That lasted for years, but I lost that insurance in November 2011 when the home care agency I work for stopped offering insurance because it was too expensive.
I went without health insurance for two and a half years after that. There were several times during that period when I should have seen a doctor but did not because I couldn’t afford it. Continue reading »
Posted by Jessica Brill Ortiz 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 »
Posted by Dorothy Lee on May 5th, 2014 at 1:46 pm | Comments Off on Obamacare Gave Me Back My Medicaid Coverage
Dorothy Lee is a home health aide living in New York City who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare), with the help of our Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative.
I’ve been working for an agency here in New York for three years. Before that, I worked at a Ritz-Carlton in Florida. When I moved here I wanted to switch to working with the elderly. I like working with people, and when my grandmother was old I didn’t get to give her any attention. It feels good to be able to help other people’s grandparents.
When I worked at the hotel I had insurance through Aetna, but I started going without insurance soon after I started doing home health care. At first I had Medicaid through Health Plus, but they took it away because I was earning too much. They said I have to make less than $700 a month to get back on Medicaid. 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.
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.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance 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
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 »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on April 22nd, 2014 at 11:54 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News
DCA’s Jessica Brill Ortiz will be one of the participants at a May 8 Capitol Hill briefing on long-term care hosted by OWL – the Voice of Midlife and Older Women. Jessica will explain the importance of direct care workers and the direct care workforce issues that must be addressed in order to ensure quality long-term care services and supports for all who need them.
Posted by Carla Washington on April 21st, 2014 at 4:58 pm | Comments Off on Greater Houston DCA Members Take Time to Recharge
“You touch with your heart long before you touch with your hand,” said one of the almost 200 participants attending the Care for Elders 17th Annual Direct Care Workers Conference in Houston, Texas, earlier this month.
Direct care workers came together to recharge, reconnect and remember why the care and services they provide to the elderly and people with disabilities is vital work, provided not only in Houston but by more than 300,000 direct care workers across the state. Members of Greater Houston Direct Care Alliance (GHDCA) start planning early to ensure they’re available to attend the annual conference, because GHDCA’s members recognize the importance of taking care of themselves so they can provide quality care, services and support to their consumers. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on April 17th, 2014 at 11:21 am | Comments Off on Helping Obamacare Work for Direct Care Workers
DCA’s Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative has been helping direct care workers and other low-income workers in New York state get affordable health coverage through the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Hadas Thier, the Outreach & Enrollment Coordinator for the initiative, recently answered questions from DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian about how the new law is helping direct care workers–and what could be done to make it work even better.
Hadas Thier (R) doing outreach
How were you able to help direct care workers with health insurance enrollment?
Over the last six months, we’ve reached out to hundreds of direct care workers in New York with information and assistance. It’s been really important to have an aggressive outreach campaign because so many people do not know what the Affordable Care Act is, how its marketplace works, and how it applies to them. This is doubly the case with many direct care workers, who may not have access to information through the internet, who may experience language barriers, and who often are isolated at their jobs if they work in individual homes.
Most of the direct care workers I spoke to had heard of “Obamacare” and wanted desperately to have health insurance, but did not know how to go about doing so. Across the board, workers were grateful to have clear information about what coverage options might be available to them and their families.Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on April 7th, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Comments Off on Getting the Care I Need So I Can Provide Care
Valrie Broughton is a home health aide living in New York City. She started working in home care in 2000 in her native Jamaica. After getting health insurance with the help of our Get Direct Care Workers Covered initiative, she shared her story with DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian.
I started working in home care because of my grandmother. When she was ill, no one was there to really take care of her. I couldn’t take care of her properly myself because I had to take care of my kids and work. After she passed away, I decided to become an LPN in my country, Jamaica, so I could help other people in need.
I started working in home care in 2000. I only stopped for a few months when I came to this country last April and could not get work for a while. I love this work. I enjoy being around older people, talking to them, taking care of their needs, giving them hope.
Since I came to New York, I’ve been living with my son. It’s been hard on him because he has to pay back his student loan and support himself, and now he has to support me too. But last month, I found a home care agency that trained me for my U.S. home health aide certification. I passed the test this week, so they just hired me.
I went without any health care for many months after moving here because I couldn’t find anyone who would cover me if I wasn’t working. Continue reading »