By Donal Jones, IHSS provider in San Diego County
After my fourth IHSS timesheet violation I was facing losing my job. I knew I was in over my head, so I turned to my union. Thanks to UDW’s help, I’m back where I’m needed—caring for my clients.
Here’s my story:
I have been a caregiver for 23 years and currently have three clients who keep me very busy: Joseph, Bobby, and Ernest. Ernest has had triple-bypass surgery, a pacemaker in his chest, back problems, and is unable to stand for more than 20 minutes. Joseph is paralyzed on the left side of his body. He has high blood pressure. Bobby has schizophrenia; I need to monitor him because he is unable to live on his own.
Because I love my job, I was really scared when I started getting violations and was in danger of being suspended for a year.
My first violation involved my client Ernest. They told me I was claiming too much travel time when I went from my house to Ernest’s house to his doctor’s office. If he had three doctor appointments, I was only allowed to take him to two. I explained to the social worker that Ernest is 65 years old and had just had open heart surgery. I took him to the appointments he needed and got a violation for it.
My second violation was caring for Joseph. He had just come from seeing the doctor and got really sick and passed out. I was told that I couldn’t go over his approved hours even though he clearly needed extra help, and to leave him in bed and he would be OK. I worked the extra hours for him anyway.
I’m not really clear on how I got the third violation. They said it couldn’t be removed since I had two violations in one year and that counted as a third violation. The social worker said it was removed and then later said it wasn’t supposed to be removed.
My fourth violation was for exceeding my 66 hours.
I was very upset. I had never had in violation in the 23 years I’ve been doing this. But timesheets change every week and it can be very confusing. We adjust and get used to it, but we don’t get much help from IHSS. After I got my 4th violation, I was offered a class. Wouldn’t it have been more useful to offer me a class BEFORE my 4th violation?
I was very frustrated and afraid. My job is what pays the bills for my home. A one-year suspension would put me out of work for a year. I have a 10-year-old son to support. I have clients who rely on me. Ernest is set in his ways and it took a long time for him to adjust to me. He doesn’t like strangers in his home. Joseph is a quiet person and he won’t tell you he’s in pain if he’s in pain. You have to know him. Bobby takes medication. He can be violent without medication.
Thankfully, I went to the union and they gave me the help I needed. They helped me file a successful appeal and my violations were removed. Without UDW advocacy, it would have been very difficult to do everything on my own. There was a lot I didn’t understand.
To other providers, I suggest that you go to the union as soon as possible. Without representation, the paperwork is very difficult to understand. The social worker is not always helpful. Without the union, you are basically on your own. But we’re not alone when we have our union—they reach out and help us. They ensure that we get the help we need so we can be there for our clients.