My day began by terminating one of my new Personal Care Assistants.
So this afternoon, I was at the Rally to Fix Healthcare Now at the DNC, and as I was being ushered toward the stage's ramp, the head honcho/manager stopped me. It seems I was not on the master schedule. LOL I will spare you what I went through to prepare the darn speech, make arrangements for the kids to stay in Boulder, and just get there and back in time to retrieve the kids. Yes, I am annoyed/exhausted/deflated regarding the disorganization of the rally, but from what I could see and hear from behind the stage, it was really an awesome rally with an unbelievable turnout.
This is a great lead in to try to explain a controversial subject. I am obviously a fairly die-hard ADAPTer. I also support the Colorado Quality Home Care Campaign, work of the Service Employees International Union, and giving our employees the option of organizing. Yes, we must free folks and get community based services and supports. That's a given! But let's take it one step further. When we are in our homes, getting these services...the system is often broken. Agency-based home health care is just terrible, in my honest opinion, at least for the Tammy's of the world. I won't settle for anything less than Consumer-Directed Services.
My disgust with agencies is not for this post; here I reference Consumer-Directed Services. Personal Care Assistants are paid crap for strenuous labor. They have no benefits. They must work long hours to keep bread on the table. They assist us in our daily lives; to be able to live independently. That is worth something! What happens when a PCA gets sick? We can't assist them in return. No health insurance. Now think on this: You have a disability such as mine, you have an PCA that works 30/40 hours a week and you truly value their performance. They get sick. No health insurance. As much as they may love working for you and vice verse, it is certainly not in their best interest to continue. High turnover! No attendants. Constant struggle to keep a workforce. And if employees are paid crap, can you really expect high quality care? NO!
Why in the heck does society not value 'caretakers'???
Some people may think it's wrong to fight for "quality" when a lot of folks can't even get services, or that valuing the workforce will take money away from serving more folks. I simply disagree. People with disabilities who cannot keep PCA's to provide essential services, often end up institutionalized or re-institutionalized, PEOPLES!!! (Like my grammar? ;-)
This issue really frustrates me. One issue does not take away from the other, for goodness sakes. The way I see it, freedom/community choice and quality home care are complimentary, as are freedom/community choice and health care. After all, if we're dead from lack of health care, we do not need home services! EVERY AMERICAN NEEDS QUALITY HEALTH CARE!
If this post is clear as mud, we're in the same boat! Can I have my cake and eat it too.....please? ADAPT is a very strong, wonderful and proud group. But, in the end, I could care less if it's ADAPT's bill or Easter Seal's bill (LOL) that sets our people free! Freedom will reign! Everybody wins!
At one point, several years ago, ADAPT was fighting to close a huuuuuuuge institution in California. SEIU was fighting to keep it open so that the workers would remain employed, from my very limited understanding. I actually remember protesting at SEIU. Our pressure worked, SEIU became supporters. They realize that these nursing home jobs will just be shifted into people's homes, etc. SEIU is all for home care now. The disability community/ADAPT and SEIU have actually created successful partnerships in a couple of states; their systems are better! Generally, however, distrust persists.
Can't we all just move onward and get along?!
Before the Healthcare rally, we went to Atlantis Community, the home of ADAPT's birth, and listened to a quick speech by Kareem Dale, the Obama's National Disability Vote Director.