Archive for ‘New Mexico’

New Mexico Uses DCA Credential to Help Caregivers Prove Skills, Knowledge

Posted by on April 6th, 2014 at 11:03 pm | 1 Comment »

Adrienne Smith

While certified nursing assistants and home health aides have to take at least 75 hours of training and pass a certification exam to prove their fitness for the job, there is no federally mandated educational program or credential exam for personal or home care workers. To help fill that gap, Direct Care Alliance (DCA) developed the Personal Care and Support Credential in 2011. The credential measures the eight core areas every caregiver should know in order to perform his/her job at the highest levels, giving workers a way to prove their skills and knowledge and employers a way to evaluate potential caregivers.

In 2012, the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition (NMDCC), a statewide organization that advocates for caregivers, negotiated a partnership with DCA to administer the credential. Continue reading »

Report from the Field: Legislators Listen in New Mexico

Posted by on November 4th, 2013 at 2:38 pm | Comments Off on Report from the Field: Legislators Listen in New Mexico
Adrienne Smith (R) with Rep. Kelly Fajardo

Adrienne Smith (L) with State Rep. Kelly Fajardo

The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition (NMDCC) is hosting a series of listening sessions for family and professional caregivers, care recipients, friends and family members of caregivers and advocates of people with disabilities and those who are elderly. The sessions bring these constituents together with their elected representatives to share their thoughts and experiences, and to discuss how the state could better support care recipients and their caregivers.

Two sessions were hosted in mid-October, both led by state representatives. On October 12, State Representative Kelly Fajardo (R-Belen) asked attendees in Los Lunas to share their comments concerning minimum education and training requirements for professional caregivers. On October 19, Representative Fajardo and State Senator Michael Padilla (D-Albuquerque) asked the same question of attendees in Albuquerque.  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 »

New Mexico Caregivers Convene for Educational Conference

Posted by on November 12th, 2012 at 11:03 am | Comments Off on New Mexico Caregivers Convene for Educational Conference

Retta Ward, Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Aging and Long-Term Services Department.

The third annual New Mexico Direct Caregivers Summit for family and professional caregivers took place on November 2 at Sandia Casino and Resort in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The event was held by the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition, which scheduled it just prior to the 2012 elections to emphasize the importance of advocating for caregivers at the state and national levels, as our population ages and the demand for care increases.

“The information about the demographic changes expected for the United States and New Mexico is very important,” said home care worker Iliana Lopez of La Plaza de Encuentro in Albuquerque. “For this reason, we should communicate to legislators the importance of more training for domestic caregivers. And, given the numbers of Spanish speakers in our state, access to Spanish language training and materials is imperative.” Continue reading »

New Mexico Direct Care Workers Hone Leadership, Advocacy Skills

Posted by on June 11th, 2012 at 7:56 pm | 1 Comment »

New Mexico Voices Institute attendees and instructors with Rep. Lucky Varela (in sunglasses).

“I left at the end of our two-day training with a feeling of accomplishment and hope, knowing the workers in attendance had committed to the cause,” says Brenda Nachtway, DCA’s national field director, of a leadership and advocacy training event she participated in last week.  “As one of the attendees, Fermina Lopez, put it: ‘Though I may not speak English well, I leave today knowing that, with the coalition and the DCA, I now have a voice. I will walk beside you in this fight to make change.'”

Brenda was talking about the New Mexico Voices Institute, a state-level version of an intensive, interactive national training program for direct care worker leaders that was held on June 7 and 8 in Albuquerque. To read more about it, download our press release.

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 »

Caregiver Advocate Looks to Hone Skills at 2011 VI Leadership Training

Posted by on April 18th, 2011 at 5:55 pm | 2 Comments »

My name is Meriam Jawhar, and for the last ten years I have been a proud advocate for elders and people with disabilities, working to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are given the voice they deserve. As an elected member of the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition, for several months I have been leading New Mexico’s advocacy coalition on behalf of caregivers across the state  in an attempt to better educate and inform local legislators on the need for greater job security for direct care workers.  In so doing, our coalition has stressed the importance of professionalizing the direct care workforce through competitive salaries, training and benefits for workers. Continue reading »

DCA Credential Professionalizing New Mexico Workforce

Posted by on April 4th, 2011 at 2:08 pm | Comments Off on DCA Credential Professionalizing New Mexico Workforce

I serve as the New Mexico Direct Care Association Chairman and as Co-Chair of the National Credential Commission for Professional Home and Community Services, and I believe DCA is helping us all do better work as caregivers.  The credential recognizes our professionalism and the quality care that we provide.

Mark Cerna

I began my career as a direct care worker when my father became ill and was his primary caregiver until he passed away.  In that role I gained invaluable experience as a caregiver, and the DCA Personal Care and Support Credential would recognize that kind of commitment and encourage more direct care workers to join the professional workforce.

Alecia Springer, a family provider from Los Alamos and Alex Brandt, a Psychology Technician from Los Lunas are two others who serve as leaders working along with me in New Mexico and nationally. Both are graduates of the 2009 Voices Institute National Leadership Program of DCA. They were among only 30 individuals selected annually from a national group of applicants.

“Alex, Alecia and Mark were nominated to the Voices Institute to better prepare ourselves as future leaders in the field of direct care, and in order that they might advocate even beyond New Mexico for others working in the field of direct care,” says Barbara LeMaire, former executive director of the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition.

Continue reading »

From the Family Caregiver Conference: Telling Our Stories

Posted by on November 22nd, 2010 at 12:44 pm | Comments Off on From the Family Caregiver Conference: Telling Our Stories

It is such an exciting month to be a direct care worker.  So many people have stepped forward this month to increase awareness around important issues such as Alzheimer’s care and family caregiving!  The day after the New Mexico Direct Care Givers Coalition Conference, we attended the 6th Annual Family Caregiver Conference in Albuquerque. Hundreds of family caregivers and their loved ones gathered with direct care workers and other allies to discuss the joys and challenges of caring for others. A theme throughout the conference was that caregivers often don’t take a pause to care for themselves.  One really important thing I took away from the conference is the vital role of direct care workers in helping family caregivers do that.  Direct care workers can spend a couple hours per week – or even just per month – providing assistance, giving family caregivers a much-needed reprieve.


(LtoR): Mark Narvaez, Leonila Vega, Ellen Teresa Costilla & Gene Varela

That afternoon, I attended a panel discussion called “Telling Our Story: Caregiver Advocacy & Action.”  Panelists Leonila Vega (Direct Care Alliance), Mark Narvaez (New Mexico Alzheimer’s Association), Gene Varela (AARP) and Ellen Teresa Costilla (NM Human Services Department) discussed the importance of organizing at the grassroots to increase public awareness and education for home and community-based care.  They also discussed current public policy affecting caregivers and grassroots legislative advocacy opportunities, such as the Direct Care Workforce Empowerment Act. Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers, Employers & Allies Caring Across New Mexico

Posted by on November 22nd, 2010 at 11:43 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers, Employers & Allies Caring Across New Mexico

It has been another exciting year for the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition! On November 5, we hosted the second annual statewide summit, Caring Across New Mexico.  We were thrilled to have so many employers and vendors in attendance along with direct care workers – it was an example of how important it is for everyone to work together.  To kick off the morning, DCA’s Leonila Vega delivered a keynote address on national healthcare policy and what is being done to improve working conditions for direct care workers and the quality of care for elders and people living with disabilities. Watch a video of her presentation, below:

Next, we had an amazing panel of service providers discuss the importance of training, respect and recognition, and better working conditions for direct care workers.  These employers demonstrated an extreme commitment to their staffs and the people they serve. Continue reading »

New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition Hosts 2nd Annual Statewide Summit

Posted by on November 1st, 2010 at 10:29 am | 1 Comment »

Mark Cerna

On November 5, the New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition will host its 2nd Annual Statewide Summit: Caring Across New Mexico.

We’re gearing up for the event, which brings together all stakeholders in the field of direct care, including:  direct care workers; the elderly and individuals living with disabilities that employ caregivers; state agency employees; caregiver agency administration; and family and friends of caregivers.

The Summit is a venue for communication among caregivers on career opportunities, job advancement, job benefits, advocacy and legislation affecting those who provide care. The Summit is an opportunity for family and professional caregivers to come together to share what works in caring for the elderly and individuals living with disabilities.

Read more about the New Mexico Direct Caregivers 2010 Summit and register.

New Mexico Tackles Direct Care Issues; Taps Into National Efforts

Posted by on August 27th, 2010 at 11:31 am | 1 Comment »

Mark Cerna

On August 1, 2010, the New Mexico Caregiver Coalition hosted a multi-stakeholder meeting with the Direct Care Alliance.  Leonila Vega, DCA’s Executive Director, met with employers, advocates, staff and New Mexico Caregiver Coalition members.  We learned a lot about national trends, workforce development and policy objectives of DCA.

For us, it was an opportunity to share updates on our local work with DCA, the national advocacy voice for workers in long-term care. We discussed the needs of New Mexicans to reform our long-term care system and address the needs of workers in this state.  Trends show that New Mexico has and continues to attract many  retirees and that the demand for direct care continues to increase.  The New Mexico Caregiver Coalition is the leading voice to develop and support caregivers so our elders have a well-trained, ample, qualified caregiver workforce to meet their needs. Continue reading »

New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition Seeks Leader

Posted by on February 15th, 2010 at 1:13 am | Comments Off on New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition Seeks Leader

The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition is seeking its first executive director. The organization, which was founded last year, is headed by a 10-member board of directors all of whom are direct care workers.

To apply, send a cover letter and resume to by March 3.

Job description (PDF)

Committed Caregivers Flock to New Mexico Conference

Posted by on November 25th, 2009 at 4:49 am | 1 Comment »
(L to R) Connie, Alex and me on our panel

(L to R) Connie, Alex and me on our panel

The New Mexico Direct Caregivers Coalition’s 2009 summit was our first conference – we just started our coalition this year – so we were a little nervous going into it. But by the end of the day on November 6, we all felt great.

About 125 people from all across the state got a lot out of the summit. We packed the day with educational sessions, running three at a time in four time slots, and we had some great speakers.

Our educational sessions ranged from self-advocacy to job-related skills to what caregivers need to know about technology. Topics included Affordable Health Insurance for Direct Caregivers, Dementia vs. Hearing Loss – How to Recognize when Hearing Loss is Causing the Misunderstanding, Caring for Yourself First, Family Caregivers as Advocates, and Advocating your Cause: Caregiver Advocacy 101.

I was on one of the panels, along with my fellow 2009 Voices Institute National Leadership Program graduates Connie Kreider and Alex Brandt. I talked about why we direct care workers need respect and recognition. Connie told people about the DCA, and Alex talked about our generally low wages and why they need to improve. The people who came to hear us asked a lot of good questions. Continue reading »

Voices Institute NLP Graduates New Crop of Direct Care Worker Leaders

Posted by on October 15th, 2009 at 9:05 am | 3 Comments »
DCA board chair Vera Salter teaching members of the 2009 class

DCA board chair Vera Salter teaching members of the 2009 class

“Let the root thrive” was the birthing motto of the Voices Institute inaugural class, inspired by the lakeside location of the DeKoven Center in Wisconsin, where the first graduates launched DCA’s signature National Leadership Program (NLP) to turbo-charge direct care worker leadership and activism.

When I wrote, after the first class graduated, that the inaugural program was one “historic and successful step forward for the movement to empower direct care workers and to fix our broken long-term care system,” I was dreaming of the possibilities. From September 27 through October 3 of this year, direct care workers once again proved their capacity to make the seemingly impossible happen, and to claim the respect they deserve as professionals. The roots are thriving at the state and national level, and the new class of graduates have a place from where to build national policy success. Continue reading »

Voices Institute Welcomes Another Remarkable Class

Posted by on September 10th, 2009 at 5:06 pm | 8 Comments »
Angel Saylor (R) with home care aide Kelvin Jefferson at a DCA focus group

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 »

Real Wages Keep Falling for Personal and Home Care Aides

Posted by on September 9th, 2009 at 11:17 am | 1 Comment »

state chartbook coverAs 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.

Elise Nakhnikian
Communications Director
Direct Care Alliance

On the Road With Roy — An Update from the DCA’s National Advocacy Director

Posted by on July 22nd, 2009 at 11:09 am | Comments Off on On the Road With Roy — An Update from the DCA’s National Advocacy Director
Across the country, direct care workers are speaking up and being heard by policy makers, long term care consumers, and employers. In my work with the DCA, I’ve traveled far and wide and been fortunate enough to be part of a national movement of direct care workers who are finding their voices, standing up and speaking out.

In the past few weeks, I was invited on a TV talk show here in Maine (see video) to talk about the work I’ve been doing to make health care more affordable for direct care workers. I’ve attended and spoken at direct care worker conferences in Texas — both Houston and Killeen — and in Pennsylvania. I’ve helped organize and participated in more than 50 visits with House and Senate members in Washington DC by direct care workers and their allies. And I’ve met with new DCA partners in New Mexico.

Change is in the wind! To see what I mean, come along while I revisit the highlights of the last two or three months: Continue reading »

DCA Publishes Fact Sheets for Direct Care Worker Advocates and their Allies

Posted by on June 25th, 2009 at 10:56 am | 1 Comment »

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

Elise Nakhnikian
Communications Director
Direct Care Alliance