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 Sunny Smith on October 18th, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Comments Off on Self-Care, Client Care at Arizona Direct Care Worker Conference
September 25 was a day of good company, good food and great speakers for the direct care workers who attended the Arizona Direct Care Worker Association’s sixth annual Care Worker Conference and Celebration.
There was a focus on self-care in the morning. Three massage instructors at one of our vendor tables gave chair massages to attendees, and Leigh Weinraub, an engaging motivational speaker, talked about the importance of staying mentally and physically fit. Continue reading »
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.
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 »
Hundreds of thousands of direct care workers have no health insurance because they cannot afford pricey premiums and copays, yet they’re not eligible for coverage under Medicaid, the joint federal-state health care program for low-income Americans. The Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as health care reform or Obamacare) provides important ways for these workers and other low-income individuals and families to get affordable health care coverage.
Unfortunately, resistance from state lawmakers and others opposed to key aspects of the law is limiting access to affordable health care in some states. That’s why Direct Care Alliance, our members and allies are advocating for affordable health care through the ACA—and we hope you’ll join us! Continue reading »
I’m the president and CEO of Catalina In-Home Services in Tucson, Arizona. We offer personal care and support services. Our clients are all private pay. We have about 65 caregivers, who we call professional direct care workers. They all have formal training, and the majority are certified nursing assistants.
When I started the company in 1981, I felt very strongly that we were going to have to offer benefits if we were going to be able to be competitive in terms of being able to recruit and retain the best. So we have always offered paid time off. We call it paid time off rather than paid sick days because you can also use it for vacation or personal time. And if you’d rather cash it out than use it, you can do that too. Continue reading »
Posted by Tracy Dudzinski on January 3rd, 2013 at 10:19 am | Comments Off on Growing the Movement in 2013
As I look back on all that DCA has accomplished in 2012, I can’t wait to see what we’ll get done in 2013. I truly believe that the growing wave of aging baby boomers is about to meet up with the growing pressure from DCA and our many wonderful allies to create a perfect storm of awareness, a storm that will finally push our issue—the need for better care quality for elders and people with disabilities and better job quality for the direct care workers they depend on—onto the national agenda.
2012 was a busy year. Our movement lost a great champion when Leonila passed away in November, but we will celebrate her legacy by remaining committed to training and supporting direct care worker leaders and growing our movement to make their voices heard and direct care a respected profession. Continue reading »
Arizona Voices Institute 2012 attendees and trainers with State Sen. Paula Aboud (front row, 2nd from R).
“I want to be with the person I assist, doing home care, helping them lead the life they want to live, and I want to be respected for doing that,” said home care worker Pamela O’Neal at the Arizona Voices Institute 2012.
Pamela was one of the direct care workers who honed their leadership and advocacy skills on November 14-16 at the event, a state-level version of DCA’s intensive, interactive national Voices Institute training program.
“This training was a great opportunity for direct care workers to learn about the numerous opportunities that exist right now for them to tell their stories and make their voices heard on
a variety of issues that have a significant impact on themselves, their families and their colleagues,” says DCA National Advocacy Coordinator Jessica Brill Ortiz, one of the trainers for the event. Continue reading »
“The seminar about delirium was very helpful, since it hit close to home and gave me a better understanding on what to look out for,” says Ramona Quiroga-Bowser. “The other seminars were great also—especially the keynote speaker at lunch!”
Ramona was one of about 100 direct care workers who attended the fifth annual Arizona direct care worker conference and celebration on October 10. The conference was hosted by the Arizona Direct Care Worker Association and Arizona Gerontological Nursing Association. Continue reading »
In her opening remarks last Friday morning in Washington, D.C., DCA National Advocacy Coordinator Jessica Brill Ortiz urged the advocates heading to Capitol Hill for the National Day of Action to speak from personal experience when they talked to legislators and their staff about why home care workers need Fair Labor Standards Act protections. “Your stories are very powerful,” she said, “and you can tell them best.”
Their stories aren’t the only tool in these advocates’ belts, but they are certainly one of the most powerful, as seen in the following excerpts from conversations held after their Hill visits with DCA Communications Advisor Elise Nakhnikian.
Timothy Doe (L) waiting to board a train to DC.
“At Senator Kyl’s office, the staff member we talked to knew about the bill. He said his aunt is a caregiver, so he knows how hard we work. He also asked us what we do as caregivers. We described it from the top to the bottom, and he was very impressed.”
— Home care worker and DCA member Timothy Doe, Tucson, Arizona
“I told him the demand is great and the jobs are growing, but we can’t attract new people because we can tell them the job is great but the money is not good.”
The story explains why DCA and other advocates for rule are concerned that the rule may not go into effect at all if it is not enacted soon. Home care worker Castillo of El Paso, Texas, who does not qualify for overtime and makes barely more than minimum wage, talks about the long hours she logs and her need to rely on food stamps to supplement her income in weeks when she can’t get more than 40 hours of work. “I don’t know how I do it, but I do,“ she says.
Doe, a founding member of the Arizona Direct Care Worker Association’s Leadership Circle who lives in Tucson, must also work long hours without overtime pay to make ends meet and support his three children. “Emotionally, it’s so hard. But I don’t have a choice,” he says. Continue reading »
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 »
Here’s a sampling of the inspirational comments submitted so far by DCA members and allies. If you’ve already submitted yours, thank you for helping support this important cause. If you haven’t yet found the time, please download our comment submission guidelines and send yours in soon.
Judy Clinco, home care agency owner
As the owner of a 30-year-old home care company that employees Direct Care Workers, I am fully supportive of this workforce being protected by the Fair Wage Labor Law. Unless this workforce is guaranteed minimum hourly wage and over time it will be impossible to recruit compassionate individuals who will work long term in this sector. Our aging society not only needs trained, compassionate individuals, but the continuity of having there services and care be provided by the same caregiver.
Posted by Bob Hebert on December 12th, 2011 at 11:34 pm | Comments Off on Home Care Agency Owner Finds Caregiver Training Invaluable
My wife and I own a non-medical home care agency that provides assistance with activities of daily living. Our clients are all private-pay, and our direct care workers are all caregivers or companions, not certified CNAs or home health aides.
Those caregivers are our business. Young or old, they have to have a passion and a heart for this kind of work. But they also have to be managed and supported and trained.
We offer our caregivers a lot of training, and we find they really appreciate the classes. Arizona is one of 23 states that do not have licensure requirements for home care. There is no federal training requirement for home care workers, and no state requirement either in our state, except a new one that just applies to people who work at agencies that serve Medicare or Medicaid recipients. But of course all home care workers need training, so most companies do it themselves. Continue reading »
CNA and DCA member Kelly Gessner testifying at a Senate briefing last week.
UPDATE: Help us fight to preserve these crucial programs by emailing your elected representatives. Our action alert makes it easy to send them a letter.
Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security are under attack. Over the past several months, these social safety programs have become the focus of a political battle over what our government needs to do to create jobs and stimulate our struggling economy. This is alarming because these programs are fundamental to the already shaky economic security of our seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families—a group that includes many direct care workers and their families, as well as most of the people they assist.
Unfortunately, the debate about whether to cut social safety net programs is being driven by politics, not the realities that millions of low-income families and individuals face every day. The Direct Care Alliance and many of our allies are waging campaigns to preserve these crucial programs. Continue reading »
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on July 5th, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Comments Off on Care, Commitment and Coffee with Elizabeth Cross of Arizona!
At the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training, DCA Communications Director Josh Sabato sat down to speak with direct care worker Elizabeth Cross to discuss the most pressing issues facing direct care workers and how other activists can get involved in direct care advocacy in Arizona. DCA Speaks with Elizabeth Cross at 2011 Voices Institute Training.
What motivates one to immigrate to another country, especially to the United States? If you are an immigrant, you have no doubt been asked: “So, what brought you here?”
Everyone’s personal situation is different and a variety reasons come into play when someone decides to come and live in this great country. Some come to U.S. because of a dangerous political climate in their native country, others due to struggling economies, sky-high unemployment rates and lack of educational and professional opportunities in their home land. Many come to the United States in search of liberty, freedom, more economic opportunities and a better quality of life for their families.
In a sea of thousands who emigrate here every year, and the millions that came before them, this is the story of one such person. My name is Timothy Kokou Doe and I came to the United States in search of a better life in 2002. I grew up in Lomé, the capital (and largest city) of Togo, located on the West African coast. Back in Togo, I worked for nonprofit social service organizations, helping young people prevent early pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. I also created an association called Soleil de Nuit (Nighttime Sun), aimed at educating the public – especially teenagers – about these important topics through poetry, short sketches and theatrical plays. After moving to the U.S. from my native Togo, I worked in a restaurant for two years. Over the course of those two years, I practiced and improved my English so that I could one day pursue a career doing the direct care work that I love.
Posted by Judy Clinco on February 7th, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers Essential to Recovery of Gabrielle Giffords
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
On behalf of the direct care workers of Arizona I want to wish Gabrielle Giffords a full recovery from her traumatic brain injury. We also ask her direct care workers at TIRR Memorial Hospital in Houston to bring an extra measure of patience for our wonderful Congresswoman and friend. We know just how difficult their work can be as they offer therapy and care to any person suffering a traumatic brain injury. There are so many different outcomes for patients following brain injuries. Many people for extended periods of time lose their ability to speak or to fully understand others or to be understood themselves. Other people for some time lose memories and for some there are personality changes. We have already heard some stories about Gabrielle recognizing friends and relating to the family surrounding her. We are buoyed. We are thankful for these positive signs. Relating to people was always one of Gabrielle’s strengths and far too often a traumatic brain injury can change people. We have to believe that Gabrielle will regain her great gift of relating. Full recovery will truly be a miracle and we hope and pray she is successful with the wonderful help given her. It may be a little selfish on our part but we also hope that this tragedy helps people change how they relate to those different from themselves. We in Tucson are already seeing so many positive changes growing out of this calamity.
We know that hundreds of direct care workers will help thousands of persons this year who suffer similar types of brain injuries. These workers as well as millions of other direct care workers will exercise their compassion, patience and skills to help injured and frail people regain their quality of life. Little things can be so difficult for these patients. Too, too often, others not as fortunate as Gabrielle will always need help buttoning a sweater or brushing their hair or even getting out of bed. Continue reading »