Friday, February 27, 2009

Union Update - SEIU promotes home care as solution to ER backlog in Canada

February 19, 2009 - TORONTO, ONTARIO - SEIU Local 1 Canada President Sharleen Stewart says an effective home care strategy is key to solving the backlogs in emergency rooms.

"People who can be cared for in their homes shouldn't be stuck in a hospital. But home care is facing a human resource crisis that will make that impossible," said Stewart. "Until we have an effective strategy to support the women and men who provide these services people who need home care, and our whole health system, will suffer."

While the Ministry of Health, Local Health Integration Networks and hospitals have all identified home care services as a key to reducing ER backlogs, little has been done to improve work conditions in the sector. Retention of home care professionals has been identified as a major problem in home care with studies suggesting half the work force will leave within a five year period.

Now, home care providers employed by Red Cross are on the verge of a potential strike that could effect as many as 40,000 home care clients across Ontario. SEIU Local 1 Canada has called on the Ontario government to work with workers and the Red Cross to find a long-term solution that can prevent job action.

"The solution to the ER crisis, and the future of our health system rests on quality home care," said Stewart.

Keep us posted on other news about union activity in home care in your local marketplace.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Private Duty Home Care and the Economy: March Poll

A recent post on the NPDA listserv confirmed what we believe to be true about the effects of the economy on home care.

Our March poll focuses on this topic.

-- From the NPDA listserv ...

Hey everyone, I'm wondering if others are experiencing this as well -

In the last 6 months I have had basically 0% turnover in caregivers. This is not because I've lost hours, actually hours have slightly increased over that time. In fact, I've experienced NEGATIVE turnover, in that old employees that had left for one reason or another are slowly trickling back in and asking to be re-hired. It's saved a bundle on recruiting costs; at least that's one bright side for me in the down economy.

Trevor O'Neil, Administrator
Colonial Home Care Services, Inc.


Take our poll to the right -- -- >>

Then tell us some of the specifics in our comments section.

February Poll Results

In February we asked blog readers "What HR processes need improvement within your company?" Here are the results, albeit they aren't scientific as only about a dozen readers completed the poll.

Caregiver Selection 58%
Caregiver Retention 58%
Orientation and Training 33%
Caregiver Recruiting 25%
Payroll and Benefits Administration 17%

Clearly, choosing the best quality caregivers and keeping them forever is important to respondents.

Senior Helpers Reports 50% Growth in Clients and Franchise Locations

Senior Helpers, one of the leading non-medical home care franchise companies reported a 50% growth in clients and franchises in 2008 despite the recession and its franchises are hiring more than 800 people across the country.

“We know our markets, our services, our goals, and we embrace and empower the franchises to get us there,” says Peter Ross, CEO and founder of Senior Helpers. “We are business people and we are in the business of in-home care meaning you have to perform everyday.”

As a further example of the success of Senior Helpers business plan, the company was awarded four prominent spots in Entrepreneur Magazine’s prestigious Franchise 500 rankings, including:
* #7 and the only home care company in the Top Ten New Franchises for 2009 Ranking
* #33 and the only home care company in the top 50 in the Fastest Growing for 2009
* #100 in the Global 200 Ranking
* #127 in the Franchise 500 Ranking.

“It’s a big accomplishment to be recognized in such a well respected magazine when we’ve only been around a few years. It sends a message that in-home care is a strong, growth industry and Senior Helpers is the place to be," says Ross.

Union Watch - Wisconsin Governor's Budget Could Lead to Unionizing Home Care Workers

A provision deep in Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's budget could pave the way for unionizing thousands of low-wage workers who care for elderly and disabled clients in their homes.

The plan, similar to one already implemented in Dane County, could group the workers into a large registry and, if the workers choose, a statewide union.

Supporters, including a labor union pushing for the proposal,(SEIU) say the registry could help connect the state's growing elderly population with more experienced, quality care. Skeptics say the creation of a union could make it harder for those clients to afford the same amount of care on what taxpayers provide.

What do you see happening in your marketplace with the SEIU or other unions working to organize home care workers? Give us your comments below.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Home Instead Senior Care to Double Number of Caregivers Over Next Three Years

A recent survey by The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted an increase in the personal and home care aides job category -- forecasting it to be the second fastest-growing job group in the nation over the next decade. Nationwide, the personal and home care aides classification is expected to grow by more than 50 percent between 2006 and 2016, increasing from 767,000 to a projected 1.15 million jobs.

This growth is a reflection of the significant increase in the number of Americans reaching their 70s, 80s, 90s, and even the centennial mark, thanks to improving health care but more importantly to the huge numbers of Baby Boomers reaching maturity.

"This could become a national crisis," said Paul Hogan, Co-Founder and CEO of Home Instead Senior Care. "Our franchise network, the largest in the industry, currently employs more than 60,000 Caregivers throughout the country. To keep pace with this projected demand, our company will have to double its care force in just three years, according to our research," he noted. "On a positive note, these projections will result in job opportunities for area workers hit hard by the economy, providing a flexible part-time option for additional income or a new career in a fulfilling job field -- caring for older adults."

What are you seeing with your business? What is the demand for home care services in your marketplace? What will you to do double the number of caregivers you employee in the next three years? What tools are are you using to select the very best quality caregivers?

Give us your comments below.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Union Watch - SEIU

By Stephen Tweed

We’ve been paying attention to the latest efforts by the Service Employees International Union to organize home care workers around the country. Here are some of the latest happenings:

February 11, 2009 - BARRIE, ONTARIO-- SEIU and home care workers staged a rally in front of Barrie MPP Aileen Carroll's office to highlight a province-wide home care strike that could leave thousands of people without the home care services they need.

Home care workers from the Barrie area say the travel time issue is one of the biggest concerns among home care workers. Driving from town to town is time consuming and means lost time.

February 11, 2009 - In a scene that will be commonplace after passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, labor leaders and home care aides joined Service Employee International Union President Andy Stern and Mark Heaney, CEO of Addus HealthCare, Inc. today to sign a renewed national agreement that will further improve home care for seniors and people with disabilities. The new contract now covers 10,000 Addus HealthCare, Inc. workers in 11 states -- California, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Montana, Delaware and Washington. SEIU IS the largest health care union in the country representing more than 1.1 million members in the field, including 400,000 home care workers.

"This renewal is very important to me. Since we established the initial agreement, we have all seen positive results," said Alberta Walker, home care aide of nine years and a vice chair on the executive board of SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana. "Thousands of home care workers have joined SEIU Healthcare as a result. We can lobby more diligently for better federal and state funding to improve the services for our consumers. We can retain and recruit the best home care aides in the industry with better wages and access to health care. And we can help Addus offer the kind of high-quality, in-home care that seniors want," said Walker.

January 27, 2009 - Caritas Christi Health Care said it has reached a wide-ranging agreement with Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union, becoming the first of the region's teaching-hospital organizations to embrace the union's organizing strategy.
For Caritas Christi, a chain of six hospitals owned by the Archdiocese of Boston, the accord guarantees a period of peaceful labor relations. In turn, SEIU receives a promise that management will not interfere with its organizing efforts, making it easier to unionize many of Caritas Christi's 13,000 Massachusetts employees.
Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who supported SEIU in its successful effort to unionize home health workers last year, said in a statement, "Caregivers perform one of the most critical roles in helping the sick, but their services are some of the most undervalued. Through this commitment between Caritas Christi and 1199SEIU, everyone involved in delivering quality healthcare to the people of Boston will benefit."

January 26, 2009 - Faced with takeover by the international union as early as Tuesday, leaders at Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West called on the international to let workers decide who will represent them.
SEIU officials in Washington, D.C., issued an ultimatum to UHW on Thursday: Agree to support the transfer of 65,000 nursing home and home care workers out of UHW or face immediate takeover and the expulsion of the local leadership.

January 13, 2009 - The Supreme Court yesterday voted unanimously to consider the lawsuit filed by SEIU Healthcare 775NW charging that Governor Gregoire violated state law by failing to fund the home care worker union contract. The Court will hear the case on an expedited schedule, with a decision likely in time to impact the legislative budget process.

November 28, 2998 - The Service Employees International Union Local 1199 is expected to say today it has successfully negotiated a contract for 25,000 Massachusetts home care workers, a year after the powerful local organized the workers.
The vote, to be disclosed this morning at an event in Brighton with Mayor Thomas M. Menino, would increase workers' wages from $10.84 to $12.48 an hour over three years, and provide healthcare benefits in the second year of the contract. SEIU said last year's organizing victory was the largest union election ever in New England.
November 13, 2008 – Sudbury, Ontario, Canada area home caregivers employed by Comcare Health Services voted overwhelmingly on November 10 to form a union, becoming members of SEIU Local 1 Canada. The move comes in response to years of not being adequately compensated for their work. The home care workers said they had to take action to protect themselves and their jobs.

October 6, 2008 - Nearly 5,000 members of SEIU Healthcare Illinois & Indiana employed by Help At Home (HAH) will vote on a historic new contract that that will pave the way for thousands more Help At Home workers across the country to join the union. The groundbreaking agreement marks the second home care contract in our union's history that provides workers the right to organize nationally. The first such agreement was reached by SEIU with Addus HealthCare, Inc., in 2005.

If you know of other incidents of SEIU organizing home care, please add to the comments section below.

February 1, 2009 – In a related note, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and the Missouri Home Care Union are seeking sponsors in the Missouri Legislature to pass the “Missouri Home Care Bill of Rights” which would make it easier to unionize home care workers and personal care attendants in the state.

The "Nanny Tax" Could be a problem for Home Care Clients

By Stephen Tweed

This week we saw three of President Obama's potential appointees get into difficulty over not paying taxes. While Timothy Geitner survived the scandal and became Secretary of the Treasury, Tom Daschle and Nancy Killefer were not as fortunate and they withdrew their names form nomination.

The case of Ms Killefer is relevant to us in Private Duty Home Care as it relates to potential clients or families who may consider hiring a caregiver directly, or using a registry that does not withhold taxes. Her problem with unemployment taxes for household help suggests the need for a couple of reminders. If you have a babysitter or home care aide or housekeeper, you’re probably responsible for more than just their Social Security and Medicare taxes. There may also be payments related to unemployment or workers’ compensation coverage.

Here's a link to an article in the New York Times about "Doing The Right Thing by Paying The Nanny Tax." This information may be helpful to you when discussing the issue of independent caregivers or caregiver registries.

What do you think about this issue? Give us your comments.
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