Donna loves her job as a health care aide, but she is concerned she is being literally driven out of her job. Six years ago Donna, not her real name, was inspired watching health care aids working with her mother, who became a paraplgegic. Donna quit her job as to become a health care aide. For the last five years she has worked for We Care, a for profit company. We Care health care aides travel to work with clients in ) in Leduc, Sherwood Park, Leduc County, Strathcona County and Bonnie Doon. “I love my job.”
But Donna is worried about the future with new changes from Alberta Health Services to We Care contract.. “Our industry is in turmoil,” she says of the pay structure changing for caregivers Aug. 1. “Previously we were paid for time in between clients if they could not book us back to back shifts and we were also paid mileage for driving to and from clients homes. The new contract that We Care has signed does not provide for call-out fees or for mileage. We are expected to work for only the time the client has on their care plan plus a small amount of travel time.”
What does that mean? Donna says: “The travel time we will be compensated for is up to the discretion of each client's case manager and is determined by distance from the closet home care office, she says. “The most troubling thing of the travel time is that this time comes out of the clients care time.”
An internal We Care memo Donna shared with Tait Talk says: “If you are allocated 45 minutes for a bath assist, 35 minutes will now be for the bath and related travel care and 10 minutes for travel.” Donna says it is impossible to do a bath assist in 35 minutes as was the example provided by We Care.
“Not only that we have now been told that client will no longer have any choices for specific caregivers, times of care, and care provided,” she says. “Whoever is available will be sent and whatever times that caregiver have available will be the time given for care. So for my mother that needs help to go to the washroom, she will have to wait for her morning care and wear Depends until the caregiver can fit her in the schedule. Unacceptable.”
Donna doesn’t fault We Care for this and thinks it is an AHS issue.
Coming up soon: what the loss of paid mileage means to We Care employees.