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.
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.
Posted by Direct Care Alliance on November 12th, 2012 at 11:01 am | Comments Off on Closing the Circle of Care for Our Veterans
Read DCA Interim Executive Director David Ward’s Veteran’s Day blog post in today’s Huffington Post.
We are at our best, as human beings and as Americans, when we take care of one another. That’s something Air Force Captain Merritt Eugene Lawlis (or Gene, as he’s known to everyone but the armed forces) knows well.
When Gene was shot down in the South Pacific in WWII, Japanese troops imprisoned him and his surviving crew mates in a POW camp for five and a half months. “He’s about 6 feet tall and he usually weighs about 170 pounds, but he was down to 125 when the war ended,” says his wife Naomi. “All they had to eat was two little rice balls a day, so they got beri beri. They didn’t get any medical care either. His plane caught fire when it went down, and his leg was pretty badly burned. They got malaria, because there were flies all around. At least a couple of the boys died.” Read more.
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.”
It’s official! The Direct Support Professionals of Indiana, better known as DSPIN, is the newest affiliate of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).
We submitted our contract agreement to NADSP on August 17. Before long, we were on their website, listed as one of their state affiliates.
But there was a lot of work to do before that happened, and there’s a lot more to be done.
I told you about our first meeting, where we had a kind of informal focus group, talking to the direct support workers and others who showed up about potential obstacles to setting up a state association and ways to get around them.
At our next meeting, we came up with our name and our first board of directors. I got elected president – I tried to give it to someone else, but they all said “No, you have to do it; you’re the one with the idea and all the information.” After that, people stepped up to fill in the slots and do what needed to be done.
There are 10 board members, and they’re all direct support professionals from around the state. I’ve never met any of them before they showed up for our meetings. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of the agencies some of them work for. That’s how distant we DSPs are from each other, most of the time. The more we work together on this, the more we share our stories and realize how much we have in common. It’s a really good peer group connection. Continue reading »
Angel Saylor (R) with home care aide Kelvin Jefferson at a DCA focus group
The Direct Care Alliance’s signature program, the Voices Institute, is about to hold its second National Leadership Program. The week-long retreat is an intensive learning journey, and this year’s class is another remarkable group, which will surely join the pioneers from the VI inaugural class to leave its mark on the direct care worker movement. We are returning to the DeKoven Center, where the roots that were planted at the first Voices Institute National Leadership Program will again thrive.
This year, we are welcoming men and women who care for people of all ages in a variety of settings, including nursing homes, hospice, group homes, day programs, assisted living, and home- and community-based programs. Consistent with the DCA’s objectives to build a broadly inclusive movement of empowered direct care workers, the class of 2009 represents a wide spectrum of direct care workers. Continue reading »
As every direct care worker advocate knows, personal and home care aides earn far too little for the important work they do. And now an updated version of PHI’s State Chart Book on Wages for Personal and Home Care Aides (PDF) gives advocates a valuable tool, proving that real wages are actually getting worse.
The chart book analyzes data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, adjusting last year’s wages for inflation to see how their earning power compares to average wages in 1999.
Nationwide, these inflation-adjusted rates, which the chartbook calls “real wages,” have decreased by 3 percent over the past nine years, dropping from $7.50 an hour to just $7.31. Real wages increased in more than half the states during that period, but not enough to make up for their decline in the other 21.
Median wages in 2008 ranged from $7.05 an hour in Texas to $12.55 in Alaska in 2008, or real wages of $5.61 to $9.90. “Wages for personal and home care aides are so low,” says PHI Director of Policy Research Dorie Seavey, “that about 20 percent of these workers received a raise on July 24 when the minimum wage increased to $7.25/hour.”
The chartbook also compares wages to federal poverty level wages for a one-person household.
Direct Care Alliance
I work 40 hours every weekend in a group home for adults with disabilities while raising my family. During the week, I am taking my final two classes at Ivy Tech State College in the Direct Support Professional (DSP) certification course. The classes I’ve taken so far have been a great help to me in my work: I apply many of my new skills every weekend.
But the leader in me didn’t emerge until I attended the Direct Care Alliance’s first Voices Institute National Leadership Training in Wisconsin last May.
After I got home from Wisconsin, I was full of ideas about what I wanted to do for DSPs here in Indiana. I wanted to start making a difference in training, wages and benefits for people who work with individuals with disabilities. I decided the best way to do that was to start a state chapter of the NADSP (National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals).
A full set of DCA Direct Care Fact Sheets, one for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, is now available in the Resources section of our website.
The one-page sheets were created as a resource for direct care worker advocates and their allies, legislators, policymakers, members of the media, and others interested in direct care issues. They include key facts such as:
The number of home health aides, nursing assistants, and personal and home care aides in the state in 2006 and the projected numbers of each in 2016
The average hourly wage for the state’s direct care workers
What percentage of direct care workers in that state or region are without health insurance
Direct Care Alliance
John Booker (R) takes shelter from the rain with fellow DCWs Ray Erickson and Julie Moulton.
It was raining in Washington, D.C on April 29, 2009. I was soaked from my head to my toe, but I was enjoying it all.
Not because I liked being wet, but because my colleagues and I were preparing for our fourth appointment of the day with members of the Senate. I was happy because the water that was on my face and in my ears and eyes was helping to disguise the tears of joy and pride that I was shedding that day for being a member of the Direct Care Alliance.
I was so proud to walk in that rain with employers, consumers, and workers — all advocates, all speaking with one voice and all caring the banner of the Direct Care Alliance, an organization that direct care workers all over the country are now calling their number one advocate. Continue reading »
Why do we direct care workers care about staffing and the future of our workforce?
There are so many issues involved in developing a qualified and professional long term care workforce that the fundamentals of why we are needed can sometimes get lost. So as we at the National Association for Direct Care Workers of Color and our sister organization, the Indiana Care Givers Association, began to think about a theme for our 2009 conference, we decided to go back to the basics.
We wanted to remind ourselves and others why there must be a stronger effort to recruit and retain direct care workers, even if means adjusting state and federal regulations or reimbursement rates.
DCA Direct Care Worker Specialist Vicki Erickson will join other speakers on April 24 for a symposium on the direct care workforce sponsored by the Indiana Care Givers Association. Erickson will offer a direct care worker’s perspective.
Other speakers include:
PHI Midwest Policy Specialist Tameshia Bridges, who will discuss projections for the future size and demographics of the workforce;
Arlene Franklin and Robyn Grant, whose topic is “How the workforce can meet the demands for high quality care”;
DCA board member Genevieve Gipson, who will talk about emerging roles for career nursing assistants;
John Delgado of the U.S. Department of Labor, who will talk about apprenticeship programs for direct care workers; and
U.S. Army Reserves lieutenant colonel Ivy Griggs on meeting the needs of America’s veterans.
DCA board member John Booker launched the Indiana Care-Givers Association November 12th in South Bend. Booker, who is the Executive Director of the National Association of Direct Care Workers of Color, brought together a broad “coalition” of advocates, providers and direct care workers at the association’s kick-off event. The event was featured in the South Bend Tribune the next day.
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