Archive for ‘Pennsylvania’

Speaking Up for the Profession I Love

Posted by on April 6th, 2014 at 11:04 pm | Comments Off on Speaking Up for the Profession I Love
Peg Ankney

Peg Ankney

About a month ago, DCA’s Jessica Brill Ortiz invited me to attend a March 25 advocacy day in Washington DC. The day was organized by Caring Across Generations, a movement of family members, workers, and others advocating for a system of quality, dignified care. I did some work with Caring Across last year through DCA, which is a member of their leadership team. I was impressed by their ethics and the work they are doing to improve our long-term care system, for both consumers and workers.

I wanted to visit the Capitol because of what I have already been experiencing in my state of Pennsylvania–and I am definitely not alone!

I’ve been a direct care worker for almost 40 years, 25 of them in home care. During the past 10 years I have witnessed a critical depletion in my workforce as demand grows. Because our senior population is living longer, there’s been a huge increase in the need for direct care workers who are passionate as well as compassionate, but too many of the trainees I see coming into the field have no heart for the profession. Instead, they see it only as something to pay the bills, or a stepping stone to something “better,” like a career as a nurse. Continue reading »

Direct Care Workers in the News

Posted by on February 24th, 2014 at 11:04 am | Comments Off on Direct Care Workers in the News

“It’s way, way deeper than just a job,” says one of the home care workers in this article about going the extra mile to get to clients during this winter’s storms.

Personal support workers in Illinois and home care workers in Washington rallied for higher wages.

A home heath aide and single mother in Texas is typical of the new wave of food stamp recipients.

Sarita Gupta of Jobs With Justice on why the fight for direct care worker rights is a fight for racial justice.

AFSCME’s Laura Reyes on the sexist agenda hidden in the Supreme Court case about unions and home care workers.

Nurse’s aide Timikia Craig, winner of a $1,000 scholarship, on what drew her to direct care work and what it means to her.

After reading about a jobless home care worker in Pennsylvania whose unemployment benefits were ending, the wife of a Virginia man with end-stage dementia who relies on home care paid the worker’s mortgage for a month.

We must increase wages for direct support professionals, says a letter to the editor by staff of Arc Maryland.

Paid Sick Days Movement Wins Major Victory in New York City

Posted by on April 2nd, 2013 at 9:06 am | Comments Off on Paid Sick Days Movement Wins Major Victory in New York City

psd graphic from National PartnershipThe movement to win paid sick leave for the nation’s workers won a major victory in New York City last week, when an agreement was reached on a bill that would require all employers in the city with at least 15 employees to give their full-time workers five paid sick days a year. A similar victory was just won in Portland, Oregon, and the Philadelphia city council recently passed a paid sick days bill.

The Philadelphia and New York City bills have not yet been enacted, and both city’s mayors are expected to veto them. Support from New York’s city council is expected to be strong enough to override the veto, but Philadelphia was one vote shy of a strong enough majority to override a mayoral veto. Continue reading »

An Imperfect Solution to a Common Conundrum

Posted by on February 4th, 2013 at 7:23 pm | Comments Off on An Imperfect Solution to a Common Conundrum

Danielle Frank

I’m a home health aide for Home Instead Senior Care in Allentown, Pennsylvania. I will have been there 14 years in March. Before that, I worked in hospitals as a psychiatric aide. All told, I’ve been a direct care worker for 25 years. It’s my calling.

My husband thought I should get a better-paying job, so I went back to college and took a business degree. I did well—I graduated at the top of the class. But computers are not for me. Health care is for me.

Sometimes, even though they have families, I am the only person there to care for my clients. They become like my family. When I take a case, I always put myself in their place and treat them the way I would want to be treated. I have a lot of beautiful letters that I get from the families of people I have cared for, and that is something you can never forget. I remember all my patients like they were here today.

I’ve been able to stay with the work that I love because I could take long periods of time off when I needed to take care of my husband and my parents. I’m grateful that my job was waiting for me when I came back. But taking all that time off without pay has been very hard on my family’s finances.  Continue reading »

Worker Rights Champion on Winning a Battle and Waging a War

Posted by on August 27th, 2012 at 8:58 pm | Comments Off on Worker Rights Champion on Winning a Battle and Waging a War

This summer, National Employment Law Project (NELP) Legal Co-Director Catherine K. Ruckelshaus won the first class-action suit ever for home care workers in New York. Last week, Ruckelshaus talked to DCA’s Elise Nakhnikian about that victory and the related campaign to win the right to minimum wage and overtime pay for home care workers nationwide, in which NELP and DCA are key players.

Catherine Ruckelshaus

What did you win in New York this summer?

The case was brought on behalf of a group of home care workers who worked for McMillan’s Home Care Agency, a small agency in New York City. We brought the case as a class because McMillan’s wasn’t paying overtime, and it wasn’t paying wages for some of the hours worked. In some cases, what people earned didn’t even add up to minimum wage.

That’s not because the agency actually paid less than the minimum wage per hour, but because some people worked so many hours for no pay that they wound up averaging less than minimum wage, right?

Right. They didn’t pay any overtime and they often didn’t pay travel time. If a worker had to travel a lot between clients, that could bring her total average wages below the minimum wage.  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 »

Worker and Consumer Panel Grounds Talk at Home Care Conference

Posted by on April 10th, 2012 at 9:03 am | Comments Off on Worker and Consumer Panel Grounds Talk at Home Care Conference

Connie Kreider

“We got bombarded afterwards by people who had more questions. They were very interested in what we had to say,” says home care worker Peg Ankney of the national Quality Work, Quality Care home care conference in Washington, D.C., where she spoke on April 2. Peg and her fellow home care worker Connie Kreider, both of whom are members of the Direct Care Alliance and the Pennsylvania Direct Care Worker Association, were joined by home care consumer family members Jim Croft and Jamie Bosland at a panel on the positive and negative aspects of home care work.

“All of us on the panel were geared in the same direction in what we talked about, and that was putting the needs of the residents first,” says Connie.

The day-long conference was on the relationship between quality work and quality care in home care, with an emphasis on how the safety, health and well-being of frontline workers affects the quality of their work. Continue reading »

What I Heard at the Hearing on the Proposed Home Care Rule

Posted by on March 26th, 2012 at 8:41 pm | 1 Comment »

Last Wednesday, the Workforce Protections Subcommittee of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce held a hearing on the proposed rule to grant basic labor protections to home care workers. Clara Glenn, a home care worker from Philadelphia, went to Washington, D.C. for the hearing. Here is her story, as told to the DCA.

Clara Glenn

I was glad I got to be there, but the chairman of the subcommittee [Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI)] did a lot of talking, and it was hard to listen to him. He really doesn’t understand the health care workforce. He just seems to think you can balance the budget on the backs of us workers. But the woman who was in charge of the Democrats in the subcommittee [Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)] was good. She asked a lot of good questions.

Another man from Michigan who owned a home care agency [Home Instead franchise owner Wynn Esterline] talked about how he couldn’t afford to pay overtime. The lady next to him [Marie Woodward] talked about how she had been taking care of her mother and father and they couldn’t afford to pay overtime either.  Continue reading »

Speaking Up for the Home Care Work that I Love

Posted by on March 20th, 2012 at 8:27 am | 4 Comments »

Brenda Nachtway

On a brisk but beautiful morning early this month, I walked through Washington, D.C. to the building where my congressman, Thomas Marino, has his office. I was there, on behalf of the Direct Care Alliance, to ask his support for the proposed rule to extend minimum wage and overtime protections to home care workers.

As I walked past our nation’s Capitol and watched the American flag move in the light breeze, I was reminded of how lucky we are to live in the United States. I thought about other trips I have made to politicians’ offices to advocate for direct care workers, on behalf of the DCA or my state organization, the Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association. I also thought about the many direct care workers I have met in my advocacy work who told me they could never take a trip like this. Some are just too busy, working two or three jobs and raising a family. But often, it seems to me, the real barrier is that the work they do is so widely disrespected and misunderstood that even they don’t quite believe it’s worth fighting for.  Continue reading »

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 »

Working for Less than Minimum Wage

Posted by on October 18th, 2011 at 9:02 am | 6 Comments »

Clara Glenn

I’ve been doing home care work for 30-some years, and I love it. I tell everybody I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You have to have a heart to do this work. You can’t just do it for no reason. You have to be dedicated. I always put God first in my life, and that carries me through.

About 15 years ago, I worked for a home care agency that paid less than minimum wage. The minimum was $5.15 at the time, and we were making $4.90. I think that was a reason a lot of the girls left. We stayed as long as we could and then we went on to other places.

I stayed because of the clients. I liked them and they liked me. We made our own little family, and that meant more to me than the money. As long as they were getting good care, that was really what mattered to me. Even now, some of their grandchildren send me Christmas cards and birthday cards and when they get married they call me up. They were like family, and I knew they needed help. Continue reading »

PA Caregivers Invited to Free Training, Board Meet

Posted by on September 16th, 2011 at 3:00 pm | 1 Comment »

PA Direct Care Worker Association logoThe Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association invites all interested direct care workers in Pennsylvania to two free training sessions and a PaDCWA board meeting, to be held at Arden Courts in Allentown on October 27.

The first training will be on the subject of caregiver burnout. It will be conducted during a working lunch (provided at no charge) between 12 and 1 p.m. After the board meeting, which will take place from 1 to 3, a second training will be held on responding to difficult behaviors caused by Alzheimer’s disease and related conditions. Human Resources Director Amanda Scholl of Home Instead Senior Care will conduct both sessions.

Certificates will be awarded on completion of training.

Download flyer for more information.

PA Home Care Workers Address Sympathetic Politician

Posted by on September 12th, 2011 at 8:50 pm | 3 Comments »

Rep. Murphy and Janis Durick

Home care workers had the full attention of Representative Tim Murphy on September 2, at a meeting hosted by DCA and From the Heart Companion Services in Greensburg, Pennsylvania.

“I was very pleased that Representative Murphy came and listened to us. I really was,” says From the Heart owner Janis Durick. “He already had an attentive ear and was willing to help us with some of the things that we needed, but I figure the comments from all the direct care workers made him that much more open to what we do. Each one is different, and their clients are different.” Continue reading »

Pennsylvania Home Care Employer Believes Quality Care Starts with Quality Jobs

Posted by on August 1st, 2011 at 4:07 pm | 2 Comments »

Janis Mandich Durick founded From The Heart Home Companion Service with the expressed desire to fill a much needed void in quality Home Care in Pennsylvania.  Several years ago, Janis chose to put her business career on hold to care for her elderly parents.  Looking back, Janis now credits caring for her Mom and Dad with jump starting her business to provide quality “at home” care service to seniors and people living with disabilities.

Janis attributes an immense devotion to her business to a great sense of knowing that many people are in desperate need of home care. “My parent’s desire was to remain at home.  I could not justify placing them in a nursing facility.  With some assistance and prayer, I managed to fulfill that desire.”  In today’s fast-paced world, life can be very stressful.  People have to work; unfortunately many times some are left with no other recourse but to leave their loved ones in the care of a facility.

Continue reading »

Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act Introduced in the House and Senate!

Posted by on June 27th, 2011 at 5:30 pm | Comments Off on Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act Introduced in the House and Senate!

Last Friday, the Direct Care Job Quality Improvement Act was introduced in the U.S. House (HR 2341) and Senate (S. 1273) by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) and Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-PA).  The bill was submitted with 22 original co-sponsors in the House and in the Senate, Chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, Tom Harkin also signed on as an original co-sponsor.

Rep. Sanchez released a statement on the importance and impact of the legislation stating “It is impossible to overstate the importance of direct care workers…They provide essential care and daily living services to more than 13 million elderly and disabled Americans.  They care for our parents and grandparents, but we don’t guarantee home care workers the minimum wage.  It is my hope that…” Read full release from Rep. Sanchez

Care, Commitment and Coffee Series Continues!

Posted by on June 7th, 2011 at 1:27 pm | 1 Comment »

Your passion. Your job. Your future!

At the 2011 Voices Institute Leadership Training, DCA communications director, Josh Sabato sat down for conversations with workers and direct care advocates from around the country, discussing the most pressing issues facing direct care workers and how anyone can join the movement in their home state. This week we invite you to meet Noel Mendez, from the DCA’s Pennsylvania chapter! Watch Video

Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association Philadelphia Chapter Summer Event

Posted by on May 10th, 2011 at 8:07 pm | 1 Comment »


215 335 0870
Continue reading »

Making Strides in Philadelphia

Posted by on March 14th, 2011 at 9:27 am | 2 Comments »

This is a guest post by Noel Mendez of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association

from left: Chris Langston, Margaret Bernger, Brenda Natchway and Noel Mendez

The Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association continued to make strides by hosting another successful membership meeting and participating in the Long Term Quality Alliance annual meeting.  On Friday 25, Brenda Nachtway, National Membership Director for the Direct Care Alliance, accompanied PADCWA members Peg Ankney, Margaret Beringer and myself to Washington, DC, where we attended the Inaugural Annual Meeting of the Long-Term Quality Alliance.  This event was held at the National Press Club where we met with Leonila Vega, Executive Director of the DCA.  Throughout the day we listened to industry and government leaders talk about issues that affect direct care workers and those in our care.

Mary Naylor of the University of Pennsylvania gave the welcome address and talked  about quality measurement, tangible improvements in care, and advancing policies that lead to improved care, among other important issues.  Kathy Greenlee, Assistant Secretary for Aging, focused on government policy, budgetary provisions and outlined features of the CLASS Act.  Topics covered by other speakers included the Affordable Care Act, dual eligibles, quality measurement, outreach and public awareness.

Continue reading »

Professional Development, Networking at Philadelphia Chapter Meeting

Posted by on January 31st, 2011 at 11:47 am | Comments Off on Professional Development, Networking at Philadelphia Chapter Meeting

Brenda Nachtway

Join us for the first meeting of the year! The Philadelphia Chapter of the Pennsylvania Direct Care Workers Association will gather to learn, network and celebrate. First, we’ll hear from JEVS Human Services on durable medical equipment, understanding disability culture, and effective communication. Participants will receive certificates of completion for this educational session! Then we’ll discuss leadership opportunities and the exciting new DCA Personal Care and Support Credential, and finish off with refreshments and get the chance to talk, share ideas and support each other.

Please let me or Roy Gedat know if you plan on coming by emailing us at or We’d love to see you, and please invite your friends and coworkers! Read more about the event on Facebook or download the flyer.