This week of May 25th – 29th, SEIU-West is proud to celebrate Disability Service Professionals Week by featuring a Front Line Hero. Disability Service Providers like Direct Support Workers (DSWs) and Direct Care Workers (DCWs) provide services for people with disabilities.

Carmela is a DCW at Variety Place in Outlook.

She has worked as a Direct Care worker for over 14 years.

A typical day for Carmela starts with getting the participants up in the morning, providing personal care and preparing breakfast.  She also assists with the other participants as needed. In the summer, Carmela does the lawn care for the facility sometimes with the help of a couple of participants; they mow the lawns and tend the garden together.

In down time they do activities with the participants such as going for scavenger hunts, walks, crafts; in general, spending quality time with them. And she also leads two of her participants in gentle physio exercise, basically anything that you would do for yourself in your own home.

Regarding COVID-19, Carmela says that although things are pretty stable right now, there is increased disinfecting that has to be done in the common areas and commonly touched stuff. But one of the biggest changes is not being able to convene with the other group homes at their day-program.

“We haven’t been able to interact with participants and staff from the other houses because we’re restricted to the homes that we work in,” she says. “We miss that interaction. We don’t go out for meals to the local restaurants like we used to, appointments are now done over the phone rather than in person.”

Carmela has also voiced concern for some of her coworkers who are struggling with the pandemic. “They’re scared even though we use PPE because you don’t know who your coworkers have been in contact with outside of work hours. But I must say, for most of us, we go to work then we go home.”

When asked what she loves most about her job, Carmela had this to say: “I’ve been here for 14 years and I can honestly say that I love everything about my job because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t still be here.

“I love the interaction with the participants, watching them learn new skills. When they make something and are able to show it off, it’s so heartwarming. It’s all about my participants and making life the best that I can for them.”

Carmela and her fellow DCWs are providing vital support services to people with disabilities and looking after their safety and wellbeing during this pandemic.

We are proud to celebrate the front line heroes that work in our Community-Based Organization (CBO) sector as Disability Service Professionals.


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