Archive for ‘Florida’

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 »

Operations End but Work Lives on for FL DCW Association

Posted by on January 27th, 2014 at 2:08 pm | 4 Comments »
Terry Bucher (L) and Joan Leah

Terry Bucher (L) and Joan Leah

At the end of this month, the Florida Professional Association of Care Givers will shut our doors after nearly 20 years. Endings are always hard, and this one is particularly difficult for those of us who love our profession and understand the need to advocate for it. However, the work FPACG has done will not be forgotten.

FPACG originated in September 1995 as The Nurse Assistant Educational Support Group, formed by Margaret T. Carleton-Bucher, LPN—or Terry, as she has been known to hundreds of members since then. I am one of them, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to have been a member and board president of FPACG. Continue reading »

Growing the Movement in 2013

Posted by on January 3rd, 2013 at 10:19 am | Comments Off on Growing the Movement in 2013

Tracy Dudzinski

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 »

Gaining a New Perspective on Life by Dealing with Death

Posted by on December 11th, 2012 at 2:00 pm | 1 Comment »

Anita Cross

I’m a CNA and home health aide at Cornerstone Hospice in Florida. I’ve been working in hospice for 10 years, and for about 10 years before that I did direct care work in nursing homes, home care, and assisted living.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to work in hospice care at first, because I didn’t think I wanted to deal with all that death and dying. But I found out that is my calling. I feel as if God has given me a privilege to work with people in their time of need—not only the patients but also the family members.

Everyone grieves in different ways. I have to be the social worker, the counselor, the priest, whatever they need at that time. Whether they need something spiritual or physical, we try our best to be there for them. I sometimes sit with the patient, if they don’t have any loved ones to visit them, until they take their last breath. I’m holding their hand, letting them have human contact as they pass over to the other side. I find that to be very rewarding.

It also gives me perspective. In the end, it makes me feel like I don’t have any problems because I’m still living. Continue reading »

FPACG Celebrates, Educates Florida Direct Care Workers

Posted by on October 23rd, 2012 at 8:55 am | Comments Off on FPACG Celebrates, Educates Florida Direct Care Workers

Terry Bucher (L, with FPACG President Joan Leah) was honored for 15 years with FPACG.

“This was my first time here and I really enjoyed myself. I will be back next year,” said CNA Anita Cross of Lake County of the Florida Professional Association for Care Givers’ 17th annual convention, which was held on October 16 in Altamonte Springs. Our conference was a great success, drawing direct care workers from 11 counties.

We started out with a day of classes before the convention to help CNAs who are renewing their licenses cover all their mandated topics, including CPR and computer skills. That day ended with a Care Givers recognition dinner, where we celebrated the contributions made every day by caregivers.

We also recognized Care Giver of the Year Carolyn Gay, our first winner to be nominated by a member of her own family.

Continue reading »

National Day of Action: Workers Advocate for their Profession

Posted by on September 25th, 2012 at 12:43 am | 1 Comment »

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.”

— Home care worker and DCA member Elizabeth Cross, Tucson, Arizona  Continue reading »

Florida Caregivers to Walk a Mile in Clients’ Shoes

Posted by on September 11th, 2012 at 8:11 am | Comments Off on Florida Caregivers to Walk a Mile in Clients’ Shoes

CNA/HHA and FPACG President Joan Leah

Florida caregivers can expand their knowledge, meet other people in their field, and feel celebrated as the professionals they are at the 17th annual convention of the Florida Professional Association of Care Givers (FPACG) next month. The convention will be held on October 16 in Altamonte Springs.

In keeping with this year’s theme, Walk A Mile In My Shoes, the event will provide several opportunities for direct care workers to see things from the perspective of the people they assist. In her keynote address, Dr. Lisa Brown, a clinical psychologist who teaches in the School of Aging Studies at the University of Tampa, will explore the strengths and weaknesses of aging. In an afternoon session, attendees will have an opportunity to experience how it feels to lose your senses such as eyesight and hearing and how it feels to use durable equipment like wheelchairs. Those who attend this session will also learn skills to help maximize the comfort for those they care for.  Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers Help Lead Movement for Paid Sick Days

Posted by on August 21st, 2012 at 6:41 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers Help Lead Movement for Paid Sick Days

Mary Tillman of Boston, Massachusetts

Hundreds of thousands of direct care workers face an impossible choice when they get sick. Should they stay home to heal but lose wages and risk losing their jobs, or work sick and risk infecting the people they assist? Fortunately, those who want to fight for their right to paid sick days can do so, thanks to a growing national movement to win paid sick time for all U.S. workers. And for those who want to do something now, 9to5 will host a National Day of Action on Sunday, August 26.

While nearly three out of every four nursing assistants in nursing homes are entitled to paid sick leave, only half (50.5%) of home health aides working for agencies receive any type of sick leave benefit. More than a million additional direct care workers who are working in less formal arrangements are highly unlikely to receive a single paid sick day. Nationwide, over 40 million workers fall in that category.

Mary Tillman, a personal care attendant from Boston, describes the conflict she experiences when forced to choose between her physical and financial well-being. “I have been a personal care attendant, caring for people with disabilities, for over 24 years,” she says. “I have never had a paid sick day. I have gone to work sick on too many occasions and, on one occasion, I even had pneumonia. I could not afford a day without pay when I live from paycheck to paycheck. I don’t think it’s fair or just that any human being should have to make a decision on health because of money. Paid sick time should be a law. Not only does it allow me to take care of myself and my family, but it is safer for my consumer.” Continue reading »

Let’s Help DOL Help Home Care Workers

Posted by on June 25th, 2012 at 9:06 pm | 1 Comment »

Secretary Solis

Last Friday, I had the honor of attending a forum hosted by the U.S Department of Labor (DOL) Women’s Bureau on behalf of the Florida Professional Association of Care Givers and the DCA. It was a great opportunity to tell them what direct care workers in Florida are experiencing and thank some of the people who are working to extend basic labor protections to home care workers.

The occasion was the first in a series of Working for Working Women events. These events are designed to provide an opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by working women and to publicize initiatives and resources offered by DOL to help women get back to work and protect their rights.  Continue reading »

The Voices Institute Comes to Florida

Posted by on June 18th, 2012 at 2:10 pm | 1 Comment »

Florida Voices Institute attendees

Direct care workers from across the state honed their leadership and advocacy skills on June 14 and 15 in Haines City at the Florida Voices Institute, a state-level version of DCA’s intensive, interactive national Voices Institute training program.

The training covered both personal and professional development, with attendees learning how to make their voices heard in policy discussions.

Download a news release about the event.

Florida Op-Ed Explains Need for Proposed Home Care Rule

Posted by on April 30th, 2012 at 9:47 pm | Comments Off on Florida Op-Ed Explains Need for Proposed Home Care Rule

Terry Bucher

In an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel, Florida Professional Association of Care Givers President Emeritus Terry Bucher explains why the proposed rule to grant minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers must be finalized. Noting that Florida is not one of the 21 states that provide their own minimum wage and/or overtime protections for these workers, she says: “Florida’s home-care workers are dedicated and diligent. But until they are guaranteed a fair wage, Florida will simply not be able to attract enough qualified workers to meet the growing need for home-care services.”

Bucher describes the pressure the home care industry is putting on the Department of Labor not to finalize the rule, claiming that employers cannot afford to pay minimum wage and overtime. In fact, she writes, the home care industry doubled its revenues between 2001 and 2009, while home care workers earn less than they did 10 years ago, after adjusting wages to account for inflation. “Clearly, the 30 percent to 40 percent profit margins of the top corporate home-care franchises are being underwritten by these abysmal, stagnant wages.”

Read Terry Bucher’s editorial.

DCA Members, Allies Comment on Proposed Rule

Posted by on February 7th, 2012 at 1:55 am | Comments Off on DCA Members, Allies Comment on Proposed Rule

Now that we’re about two-thirds of the way through the public comment period on the proposed rule to extend Fair Labor Standards Act protections to home care workers, the comments are beginning to give a sense of the range and sheer number of home care stakeholders who support the rule–and the depth of their passion about this issue.

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

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.

Continue reading »

Huffington Post Shines Light on FLSA Companionship Exemption

Posted by on December 6th, 2011 at 11:24 am | Comments Off on Huffington Post Shines Light on FLSA Companionship Exemption

“If you’re in this job for money, you’re in it for the wrong reason, but I’d like to see that change someday,” says a Florida home care worker in Healthcare Workers on Verge of Winning Equal Rights, Higher Pay. The December 1 Huffington Post article looks at the companionship exemption that denies home care workers overtime pay and other basic protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act, explaining that the White House is considering a rule that would end the exemption.

Paul Sonn, legal co-director of the National Employment Law Project, told writer Dave Jamieson, who covers workplace issues for the influential blog, that undoing the companionship exemption is “a really important change to build a foundation for improving these jobs.” Jamieson also quotes Direct Care Alliance Policy Director David Ward, who says the high turnover rates for home care aides prove that the current system of low pay and few benefits doesn’t work. “We need to make greater investment in the workers” says Ward. “There’s going to be an increasing demand.”

The Florida worker, who recently contributed a DCA blog post about how her lack of overtime pay and pay for travel time between clients affects her and her family, told Jamieson she has to work twice as many hours as her husband to earn the same amount he does. “My life pretty much revolves around my job,” she said.

Life Without Overtime: Averaging 60 to 80 Hours a Week

Posted by on November 29th, 2011 at 10:32 am | 1 Comment »

Home care worker Evelyn Coke (pictured) fought for the right to overtime pay.

The home care worker whose story you are about to read chose to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job.

In order for me to pull my weight, I average 120 to 160 hours every two weeks. My husband loads trucks 40 hours a week. It takes me almost twice as long to earn what he does. I can work in two weeks what some people work in an entire month, because we home care aides don’t get paid time and a half for overtime in Florida.

A couple days a week, I work from 8 in the morning until 8 at night. Sometimes I work from 8 at night until 3 in the afternoon. I spend a lot of my days just going from one client to another from early morning to late at night.

These days I’m not driving too far between clients, but there were times when I was traveling 30 to 50 miles a day to get from one client to the next. We used to get paid for that travel time and mileage, but now we don’t, and gas costs a lot more now than it used to. Continue reading »

Life Without Overtime: Was I Living? Was I Really Taking Care of Anybody?

Posted by on November 1st, 2011 at 3:45 pm | 7 Comments »

Home care worker Evelyn Coke (pictured) fought for the right to overtime pay.

The home care worker whose story you are about to read chose to remain anonymous for fear of losing her job.

Here in Florida, when you work for an agency you don’t get time and a half for overtime. Most of the agencies will give you all the time in the world—and you have to take it, if you’re not getting overtime and you’re only making $8.25 an hour. You need to book the hours; you don’t have much choice. The only time I’ve gotten time and a half is on a holiday, and that’s because they’re in a bind and that’s the only way they could get someone to cover it.

I made $8.25 when I first started and worked my way up to $9 an hour. After taxes, that comes to $7.50 an hour, for everything I’m doing. I never got any overtime when I worked for agencies, so I had to work 7 days a week, 12 hours a day, just to get by. I was bringing home $750 a week [before taxes], but was I living? Was I really taking care of anyone? Continue reading »

Experiencing CNA Work as Another Form of Customer Service

Posted by on October 28th, 2011 at 9:51 pm | 3 Comments »

When she lost her job at a call center, Sharon Baumgartner discovered CNA work—and found that her customer service experience came in very handy.

Sharon Baumgartner

I work as a CNA (Patient Care Technician II) in the ICU department of Florida Hospital/Waterman in Tavares, Florida. The joy of my work—and what keeps me motivated—is seeing very, very ill patients get better day-by-day. That just never ceases to amaze me to this day. What a great physician we have!

Eventually, those who improve are transferred to other progressive departments in the hospital. After all, healing the ill is our purpose. Unfortunately, of course, there are also patients who do not improve. With all life comes death: I know that. But as strong as I think I am, I can’t deny that losing a patient is heart-wrenching. All I can do when someone passes away is be there with the family and staff in any way I can.

Before I started my career in direct care, I spent many years in the legal field and working with people in various situations and on many levels, but most recently I had worked as a customer service representative in two call centers, the last being an inbound-call center contracted by Sprint where I live in Eustis, Florida. All the jobs I’ve had since I was 16 taught me something about how to deal with people, from my very first job at 7-Eleven to the wonderful life training I got while working at Publix for five years toe being the Town Clerk/Supervisor of Elections for Windermere. And all that experience turned out to be very useful when I switched to this field.  Continue reading »

Conference Inspires and Informs Florida Caregivers

Posted by on October 25th, 2011 at 3:01 am | 1 Comment »
FPACG 2011 conference attendees

Conference attendees with door prizes

The 16th annual Florida Professional Association of Care Givers (FPACG) conference, which was co-sponsored this year by DCA, was inspirational from the start. After a welcome and invocation by CNA/HHA Rita Andrews and CNA/HHA Nancy Strebel, the Air Force junior ROTC from Lake Brantley High School presented the colors. What a thing that was to witness! Next on the agenda was the presentation of awards by FPACG President Emeritus and Director of Education Terry Bucher to FPACG’s Career Care Giver of the Year and its two Care Givers of the Year. This was the first time in the history of the association that the award was given to two people in one year. Continue reading »

Stumping for the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act

Posted by on October 11th, 2011 at 9:29 am | 1 Comment »

Joan Leah

When I returned home after attending this year’s Voices Institute, I made a commitment to myself. I committed to not waste the investment made in me by DCA; the confidence placed in me by my association, the Florida Professional Association of Care Givers, when they recommended me for the training; or the commitment I made to my peers during my time at the VI. I vowed to advocate for the changes our long-term care system so desperately needs, starting with the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act.

I hope hearing about my journey to carry that message to the Hill will inspire you, and perhaps arm you with tips you can use to make your own journey. The main one is: DON’T GIVE UP! Getting through to your legislators takes work and persistence, but you can find many helpful tools on the DCA website, and DCA staff and Voices Institute alumni are here to help too.  Continue reading »

The National Voices Institute Experience – Part III

Posted by on May 16th, 2011 at 4:24 pm | 2 Comments »


Joan Leah

My colleagues and I just completed the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training Program! It was a very intense, yet rewarding learning experience and I am honored to have graduated with some of the finest people I have ever met. The investment that has been made by the DCA in this 2011 class is significant and it is now our responsibility to take the next steps to ensure our collective voices are being heard across the country.  I have been armed with the tools necessary to advocate for the desperately needed changes to our long term care system, and I am fully focused on stepping up to the challenge of helping to create a more stable direct care workforce throughout Florida. Continue reading »