Advocate Spotlight: Mark Steidl acts as a voice for those without one–through his Dynavox communication device

Relying on a communication device to speak does not stop Mark from being a fierce advocate for disability rights and for the many individuals across the US that, like him, rely on in-home caregivers.

Pictured: Disability rights advocate Mark Steidl (center) joins the Pennsylvania Homecare Association's Advocacy Day in Harrisburg to tell legislators about what home care means to him. He is pictured here with BAYADA Home Health Care Associate Kimberly Gardner (left) and CEO David Baiada (right).
Pictured: Disability rights advocate Mark Steidl (center) joins the Pennsylvania Homecare Association’s Advocacy Day in Harrisburg to tell legislators about what home care means to him. He is pictured here with BAYADA Home Health Care Associate Kimberly Gardner (left) and CEO David Baiada (right).

 

On May 22, Mark Steidl and his mother Tina joined hundreds of Hearts for Home Care advocates in Harrisburg, PA to express to legislators the importance of home care and of its impact on the thousands of Pennsylvanians that are able to remain safely at home with their families due to in-home services.

Harrisburg isn’t Mark’s first time joining with others to advocate for better policies. In addition to his participation in the Pennsylvania Homecare Association’s (PHA) Advocacy Day, Mark currently actively advocates on behalf of the National Council on Independent Living and the United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania’s “21 and Able project.

Not only is Mark an advocate, but his goal is to complete his Associate’s Degree in Social Work coursework, go on to obtain his bachelor’s degree, and eventually serve in a case management position so that he can continue to help others with disabilities. Mark, who is 23 and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, uses a Dynavox to communicate. Mark operates the device by using the switches that are affixed to his wheelchair at either side of his head. The Dynavox allows Mark to type out what he wants to say, and then the device’s speakers enable Mark to communicate out loud.

During their time in the state capitol, Mark and his mother met with Senator Jay Costa, Representative Paul Costa, and Representative Ed Gainey, who represents Mark’s district in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. To prepare for the day, Mark used his Dynavox to create a message that he would share with each legislator. Mark found it important to not only advocate for himself, but for his caregivers. In addition to advocating for three key issues that PHA outlined as legislative priorities for the home care industry in Pennsylvania, Mark’s speech included the following:

At home and in the community, I have personal care assistants who help me with various physical things. These assistants are very important to me, as they are to any person who needs one-on-one help, whether people with disability or older people. These aides enable us to live at home and avoid having to go to nursing homes.

“I am advocating today on behalf of home care providers who make it possible for us to have high-quality homecare services… When I think of my priorities as an individual with a disability, my first priority is my health and how it affects my life. But helping people maintain good health should also a priority for society.

I am pleased to be here today because you make decisions that affect people with disabilities and older adults. You have the power to create positive change and to enable people to live good lives!”

When Hearts for Home Care asked Mark to tell us why he advocates, Mark used his Dynavox to tell us:

“I consider myself an advocate for myself and for other people with disabilities. My disability is visible, and many people are likely to underestimate me and not see the person that I am. I have to challenge society’s perception each and every day.

I have to tell people when I first meet them why I use a wheelchair and communication device to talk. I have to explain cerebral palsy. People often wonder how I do school work without the use of my hands, so I have to explain that also.

All of us with disabilities have abilities and accomplishments, but we have to advocate for ourselves in order to create our place in the world.

The efforts of many dynamic leaders, innovators and activists affect our lives every day. The things I do every day would have been impossible 30 or 40 years ago. Before the changes in education laws that occurred in the 1970s, I would have been considered too disabled to attend public school, let alone Community College of Allegheny County. Thirty years ago – before the advent of electronic communication devices, I would not have been able to communicate with you. If I had been born in 1965 instead of 1995, my parents might have been told to send me to an institution instead of raising me at home with all the support I need. Times have really changed. Advocacy and new ways of thinking have created those changes.

But much more needs to be done and much more can be done. We have to keep advocating for the changes and the opportunities we want.”

Mark is an inspiration to many of his peers, and to many who understand the importance of sharing their voice on behalf of others. For ways you can advocate for yourself, your loved ones, and your community at-large, please email advocacy@bayada.com

 

 

BAYADA Honors Direct Care Workers at the Direct Care Worker of the Year Awards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BAYADA Staff at the Direct Care Worker of the Year Awards

Each year the PA Department of Aging and the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) request nominations for the Direct Care Worker (DCW) of the Year Awards.  The DCW is an individual who goes above and beyond in their work and provides essential services to older Pennsylvanians and disabled adults.

This year there were over 195 nominations. BAYADA nominated 16 aides from our offices.

The award was given at PHA’s Direct Care Worker Forum in Harrisburg. Each aide that was nominated was invited to attend. The day consisted of professional development, a motivational speaker and a DCW survey on the challenges of the profession.

This year GAO also hosted a pre-event for our aides to educate them about BAYADA’s Hearts for Home Care program and to honor BAYADA’s Home Health Aide 2017 Hero and 2017 PA Department of Aging DCW of the Year Anne Pannone.

Although, one of our BAYADA aides did not win the award in 2018 each aide felt recognized, energized and supported.  Thank you to all our office who submitted nominees.

Thank you to all of our home health aides for the important work that you do!

Save the Date: PHA Lobby Day is May 22nd!

BAYADA will again be supporting the Pennsylvania Homecare Association’s (PHA) Lobby Day in Harrisburg on May 22nd!

BAYADA office staff, field employees and clients will be joining industry colleagues to show state legislators just how large and impactful the home care industry is and, as in years past, we are committed to maintaining BAYADA’s historically large “sea of red” presence throughout the day.

Whether or not you’ve participated in a lobby day before, this is your chance to share your voice about issues that affect home care and let legislators know what can be done to alleviate some of the pressures that industry staff, clients families face daily. If you have any questions about what the day entails or how you can play a role, email lness@bayada.com.

Thank you to all PA staff, clients and families for your commitment to advocacy and for your participation in lobby days past and future.

Save the Date–May 22 is PHA Lobby Day in Harrisburg!

PA Offices Submit Home Health Aide Nominations to PA’s Direct Care Worker of the Year

2017 BAYADA Direct Care Worker of the Year Nominees

Each year the PA Department of Aging and the Pennsylvania Homecare Association select one home health aide to be named Pennsylvania’s Direct Care Worker of the Year.

Last year BAYADA nominated 14 Home Health Aides (HHAs) and one of our nominees, Anne Pannone, was selected at PA’s Direct Care Worker of the Year.  Since her selection, Anne was awarded a cash prize of $1,000 and has been invited to several statewide events to discuss the meaning of being a HHA and the value it provides to the state.

To help ease our service offices’ workloads, GAO is working with EMP to submit this year’s HHA nominations using information provided through our Hero program.  To date, over 15 home health aides have been nominated to be this year’s Direct Care Worker of the Year.

All nominees will be invited to the 2018 Direct Care Worker Forum, which includes a luncheon and half-day training program on March 28.  A stipend will be given to all HHAs attending the Forum.

U.S. Senate Aging Committee Staff Spends Day with BAYADA

Submitted by Laura Ness, Director, Government Affairs (GAO)

Recently, Samantha Koehler, policy aide to the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging for ranking member U.S. Senator Bob Casey, and Vicki Hoak, Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, spent the day in Philadelphia with BAYADA Home Health Care.  During her time with us, Samantha spent time learning about the inner workings of our service office and went on two home visits, one to an assistive care state programs client and another to a hospice client.

During Samantha’s visit, we discussed the most recent issues to impact home care in Pennsylvania including the institutional bias that still exists, the challenges with the recent proposal to block grant or institute per-capita caps to Medicaid, and the harmful proposed home health groupings rule.

Samantha loved getting to spend some time with Ms. Lenora E. and her aide Kimyatta J. Ms. E has been a BAYADA client for over a year and gets nine hours of care a day.  She is served by the Philadelphia Corporation of Aging (PCA) office. She also met Florence G., a 101-year-old heart patient who can remain at home with her daughter because of the care we deliver. She loves her Clinical Manager Faith Brown almost as much as she loves her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren. Grace is served out of the Pennsylvania Media Hospice (PMH) office.

A big thank you to the PCA and PMH staff for hosting Samantha!

Executive Director of PHA Vicki Hoak, BAYADA Aide Kimyatta J., BAYADA Client Lenora E. and Policy Aide Samantha Koehler sit and discuss home care.

Presumptive Eligibility Legislation Introduced in the House and Senate

Submitted by Laura Ness, Director, Government Affairs (GAO)

The work of the Pennsylvania Homecare Association, Pennsylvania Health Law Project, and the Elder Law Attorneys has led to presumptive eligibility legislation being officially introduced in Pennsylvania’s General Assembly. The bill numbers are S.912 and H.1829.  The legislation will allow individuals to be presumed financially eligible for home care services. This will greatly expedite the process and allow individuals to access the care they want when they want it. Since being introduced GAO has been working to obtain additional co-sponsors for both pieces of legislation. So far, we have 24 House sponsors and 16 Senate sponsors.

More work is still needed.  Please take a moment to email your state legislators and ask them to support the legislation.

Click here to tell your legislators to support equalized access to home and community based services.

See the full list of sponsors here:

 

 

 

 

BAYADA Hosts First PA Virtual Lobby Day April 26th-28th

Submitted by Laura Ness, Director, PA Government Affairs (GAO)

As you know, April 25th is Lobby Day in Harrisburg with the Pennsylvania Homecare Association.

To magnify our impact, we are asking that all staff, especially those unable to be in Harrisburg in person contact their State Representative and State Senator between April 26th and April 28th and ask them to support our issues.

Our message is simple.

“On Tuesday, April 25th my colleagues came to Harrisburg to discuss a variety of issues impacting home care. Home care is a 24/7 job and I was unable to join my colleagues because I was assisting Pennsylvanians receive the quality, cost-effective home care they need.”

We have created an easy template with additional information for you to follow. Please take two minutes to call or email your legislators to urge them to support BAYADA and PHA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of our clients and the staff who care for them.

Look for the email from GAO on April 26th.

BAYADA Direct Care Worker named 2017 Pennsylvania Department of Aging Direct Care Worker of the Year!

Submitted by Laura Ness, Director, PA Government Affairs (GAO)

Each year the PA Department of Aging and the Pennsylvania Homecare Association (PHA) request nominations for the Direct Care Worker (DCW) of the Year.  The DCW is an individual who goes above and beyond in their work and provides essential services to older Pennsylvanians and disabled adults.

This year there were over 160 nominations. BAYADA nominated 21 aides from our offices.

The award was given at PHA’s Direct Care Worker Forum in Harrisburg. Each aide that was nominated was invited to attend. The day consisted of professional development, a motivational speaker and a DCW survey on the challenges of the profession.

Towards the end of the event PA Department of Aging Secretary named  BAYADA Philadelphia Corporation of Aging –West Home Health Aide Anne Pannone as the DCW of the year.

Anne will be recognized again at the PHA Annual Conference in the Poconos.

Congratulations to all the aides who were nominated.

Click here to read the BAYADA Blog article about Anne

Click here to see photos from the event

Making Progress On Equalizing Access To Home And Community-Based Services in PA

Submitted by Laura Ness, Director, PA Government Affairs (GAO)

As a result of a legislative roundtable planned by 2015 Hearts for Home Care Ambassador of the Year Mike Sokoloski, Representative Aaron Kaufer became very interested in helping us equalize access to home and community-based services.  Since then, Representative Kaufer has arranged meetings with executive directors from various legislative committees and made the first attempt at legislation.  He also spoke with the chair of the Public Health Committee Representative Matt Baker.  Due to our consistent follow-up, Representative Baker has decided to take up our issue himself with the support of Representative Kaufer.  We are working with him to craft legislation and look forward to working with him throughout the legislative process.

Register for PA Lobby Day in Harrisburg