For Immediate Release - September 15, 2011

Patrick-Murray Administration Honors Personal Care Attendants at State House Ceremony

Five Massachusetts residents recognized for work with elders and people with disabilities

BOSTON - The Patrick-Murray Administration today honored five individuals from across the Commonwealth for their dedication and service as personal care attendants (PCAs) for elders and people with disabilities at an event at the State House. The Paul Kahn Award for PCA Service acknowledges the vital role that PCAs play in assisting with tasks of everyday living for over 20,000 Massachusetts residents. The award ceremony is sponsored by the PCA Quality Home Care Workforce Council and 1199SEIU Health Care Workers East.

"PCAs care for seniors and people with disabilities in their own homes, and their work plays an important role in helping the Commonwealth achieve our commitment to 'Community First,' " said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby.

"Personal care attendants serve as vital links to independent, community-based living for seniors and persons with disabilities living in the Commonwealth," said Christine Griffin, Assistant Secretary for Disability Policy and Programs in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. "The variety of services they provide are determined and directed by the consumers they serve - making independence the guiding principle as well as the outcome."

PCAs support elders, adults and children with daily activities, including bathing, dressing, meal preparation and other tasks they are not able to do for themselves. PCAs also make it possible for many people with disabilities to go to work by helping them physically prepare for a day in the workplace.

The recipients honored today are:

Luci Johnson - Lowell

Luci was nominated by the father/surrogate of David, a 44-year old diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and Spastic Quadriplegia. Two years ago, David transitioned from living with his parents to living in his own apartment. Luci visited him on her own time, including during an ice storm, to calm any fears caused by the new environment. The management of David's building has chosen him as "resident of the year."

Johanna Montalvo - Worcester

Johanna Montalvo has been a PCA for nine years. She met her consumer/employer and helped her for about a year prior to being paid through the PCA program. Johanna said she believes in providing care for those who need it, something she learned in her native Dominican Republic, where a high value is placed on caring for others

Terri Morris - Middleborough

A former registered nurse, Terri has spent the last 30 years committed to the PCA program. When asked what she likes best about being a PCA, Terri said: "I'm helping someone's life be independent." Tom, Terri's consumer/employer, describes her as being prompt, professional, and caring. Terri has taken a leadership role on behalf of PCAs in the Brockton area and has facilitated meetings with other PCAs in the area.

Noah Zizinga& - Watertown

Noah was born in Uganda and came to the United States when he was in his mid-30s. For 14 years, Noah worked as a PCA for Jimi, a long-time manager at the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL). As Jimi's PCA, Noah was a positive presence at BCIL, and when Jimi died earlier this year, BCIL hired Noah as a skills trainer.

Patricia Peles - Springfield

Both parents of Brian, a 22-year old man with severe disabilities, nominated "Trish" as Patricia is known to them. Trish has provided care to Brian since he was 4 years old. Trish meets Brian's bus from his day program every afternoon and cares for him until his parents get home from work. According to Brian's father, "We are totally at ease, knowing Brian is in great hands every day"

The Paul Kahn Award for PCA Service is named for Paul Kahn, a long-time advocate for disability rights who was one of the first people in Massachusetts to use personal care attendants in the mid-1970s. Kahn passed away last year.

Two years ago, in an effort to streamline the recruitment and hiring of PCAs, the Patrick-Murray Administration launched an online PCA Referral Directory, a comprehensive listing of personal care assistants ready to provide care in an individual's home. Consumers can find qualified PCAs more easily by searching the website by zip code and other criteria, such as access to a car, hours of availability and experience. PCAs can submit job applications and resumes online or by telephone. Since last year, more than 7,000 people have registered to work as PCAs.

The Patrick-Murray Administration's "Community First" long-term care agenda ensures that elders and people with disabilities have access to community-living supports that address each individual's diverse needs, abilities and backgrounds. PCAs are an integral part of creating and maintaining opportunities for community living.

In 2008, Governor Deval Patrick announced the Commonwealth's first Olmstead Plan, a roadmap and action plan for ensuring that the Commonwealth's 1.6 million elders and people with disabilities have access to the full range of home and community-based services, including case management and housing supports.

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