Mandated training for in-home care providers

Last week I was at a major retail outlet in our community. As I was leaving the store I was approached by a paid signature gatherer. He wanted my signature on a ballot initiative. He was pretty vague about the specifics of this initiative, but indicated it would improve the safety of the elderly and disabled.

I am familiar with the background and sponsors of this initiative, so I tried to find out if this paid signature gatherer knew what this initiative was really about. He made a few more generalized statements, indicating the initiative would improve California's In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program. He said the initiative would result in much needed training for home care workers, a safer care environment, and better pay. He stressed that IHSS workers receive no training now.

Home care workers do, indeed, deserve higher pay. But claiming that they receive "no training" is a blatant misstatement of fact, i.e., a lie. This ballot initiative is sponsored by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and perhaps the SEIU promotes this view because it "appears" to support their image of caring for those with long term care needs.

Unfortunately, this image is a very cloudy one. This ballot initiative is a heavily veiled attempt by this union to gain members and line their pockets at the tax payer's expense.

I have been a union supporter since the 1940s. No one can legitimately question my credentials in this area. But writing a ballot initiative that mandates 75 hours of training for IHSS providers is ludicrous. Who will do the training? Who will get the lucrative contract to provide this training? What training will they provide? And, finally, who will be required to pay for this training, the tax payers of California?

The vast majority of in-home care providers are trained by the person needing their services. Why? Because the person needing the services of an in-home care provider knows exactly what they need, and how these needs should be met. The IHSS program was designed to be consumer-oriented and consumer-directed. It was signed into law by then-governor Ronald Reagan. The basic objective has always been to provide services that the disabled person would provide for themselves, if their varying disabilities didn't interfere with their ability to do these things by themselves. The IHSS program does not provide complicated medical procedures. Why? Because no IHSS consumer would do complicated medical procedures on themselves.

There are basically very few rules for any IHSS provider: Be prompt Be clean Be courteous and respectful Listen to your client Do what your client asks, in the manner your client prefers

These rules do not require 75 hours of training. On the contrary, 75 hours of training is likely to overturn the basic rules listed above. I can see a scenario like this: The disabled person asks for help to get into bed. The disabled person directs the care provider to help in the same way the disabled person has gone to bed for the last thirty years. The care giver responds, "I can't do it that way. That isn't the way I was trained."

SEIU did not ask for input from the disabled community, and actually sprang it on the disabled community in a surprise move. This petition was introduced after the union announced a statewide recruitment effort. In this enrollment and training effort by SEIU, the two groups most impacted have been completely ignored; those who require in-home services and those who provide these services. Membership, and the dues that follow, are the ultimate goal; not the well-being of providers or recipients!

The unions are now pushing to put the In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS) program into their own vision of managed care; care that is managed by the union. People with disabilities have fought for and worked hard to make community living safe and cost effective. They did it by employing the people they want to care for them in their own homes. SEIU is trying to destroy this Independent Provider Mode and recreate the IHSS program into a stepping stone to nursing home or nursing agency employment. Who will benefit? Certainly not the disabled consumer, and certainly not the taxpayer.

Standardized training for providers, that excludes input from the IHSS recipient, is paternalistic at best and approaches Orwellian in extreme. It is State, and SEIU, control of its disabled citizens' daily life, as in a "Big Brother" society.

If you are approached by someone asking you to sign a petition, ask them for a full copy of their petition. Then take it home and read the entire document. Ask yourself these questions. Who sponsors the petition? What is their real objective? Will it require funding? If it will require funding, how much, and who will pay?

If the petition is vague, or leaves these questions unanswered, don't sign it.

Richard Daggett is president of the Polio Survivors Association.

********** Published: Feb. 20, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 45