Friday, February 17, 2012

Choose People, not Profits

Two for-profit national home care franchises are leading the fight against the proposed rule to give home care workers minimum wage and overtime pay protections. They try to cover up their self-interest with lofty claims, but, as yesterday's USA Today points out, they're really just protecting their healthy profit margins. Home Instead Senior Care spent at least $362,000 last year to try to stop the rule from being enacted. Meanwhile, home care workers average less than $10 an hour. About a third of these hard-working Americans cannot afford health insurance, and nearly half rely on food stamps or other forms of public assistance to make ends meet. Home Instead and its allies are trying to flood the Department of Labor with comments opposing the rule. Let's show them there are some things money can't buy. If you haven't already voiced your support for home care workers, submit your comment today. Tell DOL home care workers must have minimum wage wage and overtime pay.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Action Alert! Go to the State House Wednesday, Dec. 14, to Save Maine’s Consumer Directed Personal Assistant Services (CD-PAS)!

Action Alert! Go to the State House Wednesday, Dec. 14, to Save Maine’s Consumer Directed Personal Assistant Services (CD-PAS)! . . . Nearly seven years ago, direct care workers in Maine joined together to speak with a united voice in support of Consumer-Directed Personal Assistant Services (CD-PAS) and the people who count on those services. Unfortunately, all CD-PAS services in Maine are now at risk of elimination. LePage has asked state legislators to officially terminate Maine’s CD-PAS program effective April 1, 2012. Join us at the Maine State House on Wednesday, Dec. 14, to fight back! . . . We are fighting back and standing up for each other and the Maine citizens who count on CD-PAS services. We need your help! On Wednesday, Dec. 14, go to the Maine State House to testify against the Governor’s proposal to cut all state funding for CD-PAS. The hearing will be in the Appropriations Committee hearing room off the State House Hall of Flags. The portion of the hearing about CD-PAS is expected to start in the afternoon or in the evening. Arrive in the afternoon and be prepared to stay into the evening. . . . It’s critical that committee members hear from both CD-PAS workers and the people who use CD-PAS services. Keep your testimony short, under three minutes, and be respectful. Tell the committee who you are and what you do for work. Explain that your work helps Maine people live independently in their own homes. Tell them you take pride in your work even though you don’t get any healthcare, vacation, sick time or retirement. Tell them it’s wrong to leave Maine people who need these services in the lurch. Tell them it’s also wrong to decimate Maine’s personal-care workforce precisely as Maine has one of the oldest populations per capita. Tell them that cutting CD-PAS would push people who use CD-PAS services into more expensive boarding and nursing homes. Yet in his proposal to cut $221 million from Maine DHHS, Gov. LePage proposes de-funding Maine’s CD-PAS program. He has proposed cutting $449,605 from the current year’s CD-PAS budget, and over $2.4 million from the next. His proposals would entirely defund the program, leaving in the lurch every Maine person who counts on CD-PAS services to live independently in their own homes. His proposal contains no plan whatsoever for their care if the CD-PAS program is terminated. The only way we’re going to save the CD-PAS program is by persuading legislators on Wednesday, Dec. 14, that it’s wrong to terminate CD-PAS in Maine. It’s wrong to force Maine people who use CD-PAS services into more expensive boarding or nursing homes. Again, go to the Maine State House on Wednesday, Dec. 14, to oppose the Governor’s proposal to eliminate CD-PAS. Arrive in the afternoon and be prepared to stay into the evening. For more information about the Governor’s proposal and related links, including the hearing schedule, guidelines for testifying and the audio link to the Appropriations Committee hearing, go to the MSEA-SEIU website at If you have any questions, call MSEA-SEIU headquarters at 622-3151 or 1-800-452-8794 and ask for Mary Anne Turowski.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

California Governor Signs Landmark Patient Safety Legislation

California Governor Signs Landmark Patient Safety Legislation Governor Jerry Brown recently signed landmark Safe Patient Handling legislation (AB 1136) to prevent a staggering epidemic of workplace injuries among hospital workers while improving patient care.

"The SEIU nurses here in California have long recognized the need for safe patient handling legislation and this was the year to finally get that accomplished,” said Ingela Dahlgren, RN, the Executive Director of the SEIU Nurse Alliance of California. “Too many of our nurses and other healthcare workers have been injured on the job while moving or repositioning the patients in their care.”

The nation's first Safe Patient Handling law requiring the purchase of safe patient handling equipment and training programs was passed in Washington State in 2006. As a result of the implementation of this law, a January 2011 study found that neck, back and shoulder injuries to hospital workers caused by manual patient handling have decreased by more than one third.

· Read more about this victory for patient care here.

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Maine law mandates better system for home healthcare consumers andfor direct care workers!

Maine Enacts Law to Assess Quality of Direct-Care Jobs

Maine has passed a new law mandating the creation of a work group to review the quality of direct-care jobs within home and community-based programs administered by the state’s Department of Health and Human Services.

The law — entitled “An Act to Stimulate the Economy by Expanding Opportunities for Direct Support Aides” (pdf) — was signed by Governor John Baldacci (D) on March 25.

Drawing on progressive and comprehensive workforce development principles, the law is intended to help Maine develop “a rational, equitable and clear framework for defining jobs, administering compensation, designing and delivering training, and ensuring a sufficient and high-quality workforce.”

Work Group’s Goals

The work group is to be convened by Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and will include both workers and consumers.

According to the new law, the group is charged with assessing the extent to which DHHS programs meet the following goals:

  • Develop a sequence of “employment tiers” including training links that crisscross Maine’s facility-based and home-based care services as well as acute care;
  • Establish a streamlined, statewide job classification system of direct-care job titles; and
  • Set reimbursement rates that take into account the costs of wages, benefits, training, travel, supervision, and administration with the goals of “achieving transparency and wage level parity across programs” and directly covering the cost of health insurance along with other employee-related expenses.

The existing job classification system is “very hard for workers to move across work settings and up a career ladder,” said Helen Hanson, a direct-care worker from China, Maine. “This legislation is a step in the right direction to solving problems that exist simply because of too many job titles.”

Other Aspects of the Law

The law also stipulates that Maine must increase the percentage of adults who receive long-term care in home and community-based settings rather than in facilities.

In April 2009, PHI testified on behalf of an earlier version of the Maine legislation which would have established a minimum wage of $12 for all personal assistance workers. That requirement was not included in the bill that Baldacci signed last month.

However, the new law is notable for its explicit focus on the fundamental elements that make up a quality job for direct-care workers.

– by Matthew Ozga

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Test dates for the Direct Care Credential

MSEA Local 771 is pleased to offer five scholarships for our union members to receive the Direct Care Alliance Personal Support Credential, a $140 value. Upcoming test dates will be
  • July 15 at MSEA in Augusta - 9-noon
  • July 16 at Alpha One in South Portland - 9-noon.
  • Applications are due by June 23. Contact us for an application.

DCA Credential Committee needs you!

In 2011, the Direct Care Alliance rolled out the Personal Care and Support Credential. This credential provides direct care workers an opportunity to demonstrate their work readiness, knowledge, judgment and other critical skills necessary for providing personal care and support to people who are chronically ill, disabled, or dying.

To keep the exam fair, comprehensive and up-to-date, the Direct Care Alliance is creating a committee of experienced direct care workers to review the existing questions and discuss changes to the exam.

We are inviting you to become a part of that committee, which will be getting together for three days this summer. This meeting will take place in Alexandria, VA (Washington, DC metro area) on July 27, 28, and 29, 2011.

You do not need to prepare or study to attend this meeting. We are inviting you to take part because of your job experience. Test development experts will do the following activities at the meeting:

  • Describe the history of the Personal Care and Support Credential
  • Review the test sections and the types of questions
  • Describe the information (knowledge and judgment) the test measures
  • Teach you how to write and review test questions
  • Offer you the opportunity to practice writing and reviewing questions
  • Give you feedback while you are writing questions
  • Give you any additional information that you need

The Direct Care Alliance will pay your expenses, including the cost of travel, the hotel, and food.

Please call or email Helen Hanson, 347-563-1193 or to sign up for this committee or for more information.