I and many others are well aware of the crisis that we have regarding lack of trained, qualified and committed caregivers for our community members in need.
Being aware of this crisis, I would think that the Department of Social and Health Services would want to work with their clients and independent providers to provide flexibility and alternatives so that the providers are able to complete the training.
In Washington State, independent providers can be hired by the disabled person and after having completed the 5-hour “Orientation and Safety” class, background check and fingerprints, may begin working. They have 120 days to complete the remaining 70 hours of the Basic Training and need to have their Home Care Aide Credential within 200 days of starting to provide care.
While this may not sound difficult, in reality, many people are finding it impossible to complete for several reasons.
- While working and providing care for the disabled person, the IP is also expected to travel to the SEIU training sites to attend the required evening classes. For a person who provides care in the evening, this task is virtually impossible once caregiving duties have started.
- There is no “exception to rule” or extension available if unusual circumstances come up – such as family crisis, relocation, availability, change in status. DSHS has no flexibility for accommodations for IPs to get their training.
- Even though there are alternative courses available through other DSHS approved training sites, IPs are not informed of these choices – even if they have difficulties with attending or completing the Training Partnership classes.
In order to be independent and involved in her community, Sarah needs to have reliable caregivers. Sarah is able to self-direct but does need the caregiver to provide physical and personal care. Sarah had a terrific and experienced caregiver. The restrictions of completing the 75 hour SEIU 775 training within 120 days of starting work has proven to be too restrictive for many people who have applied.
This is the checklist from DSHS on steps to becoming an HCA – note that the ONLY training course information provided is the SEIU 775 training and a link to the SEIU 775 website.
The caregiver, having graduated from PIMA Medical Institute and having worked in an Internal Medicine Clinic as a Medical Assistant for 4 years in addition to having the experience of caring for her profoundly disabled younger brother, it seemed that she would fit into one of the categories that do not need to complete the full 75 hours SEIU 775 training by the criteria of “similar training”.
Unfortunately, a medical Assistant is not one of the jobs with “similar training” that is exempt from the 75 hours. The caregiver decided that taking a Nursing Assistant Course and becoming a Nursing Assistant – Certified (NAC). would be the best option for her.
This is where the whole issue gets more and more confusing and ridiculous when one just wants to do their job and provide appropriate and safe care to her employee.
DSHS sent a letter informing her that she would not be paid after 120 days due to not completing the SEIU 775 Training within that time frame. DSHS sent the letter to an old address (even though they had been using her current address for not only her W-2 but other correspondence between the case manager and SEIU 775). Due to this error on the part of DSHS, the caregiver did not receive the notice until the time limit to send an appeal had expired. The caregiver had already taken steps before the deadline to become an NAC.
- January 18, 2018 – Application sent to Department of Health for Nursing Assistant Certification
- February 26, 2018 – appeal letter sent in to DSHS from caregiver regarding notice that she would no longer be paid since she had not completed the SEIU 775 training.
- March 13, 2018 – caregiver had discussion with the credentialing specialist at DOH who provided extremely useful information with some options available to gain certification. She provided information on the pending NAC if that was still a consideration. (See note below) The information on the website was not totally correct with the processes and testing needed to complete the bridge program from MA to NAC and this lack of information was a barrier to completing this training.
Your Pending Nursing Assistant Certified (NAC) will stay pending for 300 days. At that time, you will be sent a 30 day warning letter. That gives you 30 days to respond letting us know if you would like to keep your NAC open. All you need to do is simply respond to that letter via email or by phone and we will extend it another 300 days. There is no limit to how many times you can extend it out as far as I know. This will keep your already submitted $65 payment and NAC application applicable to completing the NAC application process at a later date if you would like.
There is also a 24 hour bridge training program you can take after you have an Active Home Care Aide license as well. If you would like to pursue your Home Care Aide license for now and complete the NAC application process at a later date via bridge training, you would need to submit the following: (You’ve already submitted the application and $65 payment)
4. April 9, 2018 – DSHS filed a Motion to Dismiss claiming the caregiver had no right to appeal. A hearing was heard with the judge and the Department Administrative Hearing Coordinator – Mr. Korff.
5. April 19, 2018 A pre-hearing appointment with the Judge and Department Administrative Hearing Coordinatore was set for
“Mr. Korff stated at the motion hearing April 9, 2018 that the Department first learned of my change of address on March 1, 2018 when they received my request for an appeal. I believe that the evidence I have provided indicates that the Department had my current and correct address on record as I was receiving mail and payments from November 2017. I did my part and updated my address with the case manager and evidently there was a break in the system after that”
“I was working for free from January 26, 2018 and am currently still working for free for Sarah due to the fact that there are so few providers that are able to work and I do not want to leave Sarah without the needed care. My plan was to complete the certification for a CNA as soon as I could and then submit the license to DSHS and resume being paid for the care I provided.”
“I had sent in my appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings with the hope of being able to extend my temporary status and complete the HCA training. My concerns I raised are appropriate and I believed that common sense and possibly an exemption to the rule could be used to enable me to continue the HCA training (at my own expense) and also be paid to provide care to Sarah”
“It has been clear by my actions that I have been attempting to accomplish training and complete the required steps in order to have a HCA credential and be paid for care-giving. It has been through a series of unfortunately timed events that I was unable to complete the steps in the required time set by the Department.”
“Things are again stalled due to the Department refusing to allow me to have an appeal and instead changing the hearing to a “prehearing conference”. There is still no decision on the part of the Department.”
Below are the actions that I am requesting:
I receive payment for the two weeks I worked in January, 2018 that I was unable to document due to being locked out of the IPOne system. (Allow me access to the system so that I can update it and submit my hours)
I would like an exemption to the rule of 30 days to appeal and to extend the temporary contract. I would like an extension of 60 days which will give me time to complete all the required training for the HCA.
I would appreciate being paid for the time going forward while I complete my training (at my own expense) and continue to provide the caregiving that Sarah requires. I plan to have my HCA training completed within 60 days from now. I would greatly welcome the opportunity to continue working for Sarah during this time but I also need to be paid for my work.
6. April 26, 2018 – Mr Korff objected to each of the 9 documents that appellant submitted regarding the Motion to Dismiss on the grounds of relevance – stating all were irrelevant.
7. May 7, 2018 – Order Denying Department Motion to Dismiss issued – Judge found the appellant’s request for an appeal hearing was timely.
8. May 8, 2018, Caregiver submitted HCA Application to DOH choosing to complete the HCA training at a DSHS approved training site rather than the NAC since it would be quicker at this point to complete and get the certification.
9. June 13, 2018 – Administrative Court Hearing with Judge and Department Administrative Hearing Coordinator, Mr. Korff. Mr. Korff again stated that there were no other options to take the HCA training and that SEIU 775 was the only course available.
10. June 28, 2018 – Caregiver submitted documents to the Judge regarding appeal and request for extension as an exception to the rule together with information from DSHS regarding alternative training available which the Department Administrative Hearing Coordinator denied existed.
To be continued –