On-Call Workers


An IHSS client discovered the On-Call Program at the “Where there’s a Will, there’s a Way” Conference by talking to Support Services Counselor Esther Libenstein. Esther, now retired from the Public Authority, recounts that the man, a 43-year-old Latino who uses a wheelchair, was “in the process of moving to a new address” (from an apartment building in the Tenderloin to one at Fifth and Mission). The client has “splints on both arms, neuropathy and osteoporosis” and was in dire “need of a worker to help with the heavy cleaning and packing. He was being pressed to leave and felt panicky.”

Esther arranged for On-Call worker Merlin Willis to assist the client. Merlin did the heavy cleaning, all the packing, and got the client ready to move. “All of my clients are good experiences,” Merlin relates. “Something new. He was a very interesting person who had been through a lot. You do what you can to make them comfortable and help them in their lives.”


Albert Smith passed away in July 2014.

Albert Smith passed away in July 2014.

Albert Smith, now in his early sixties, has worked as an IHSS independent provider (IP) since 2001 and is one of our most reliable and respected On Call workers. In 2004, Albert was singled out for recognition in the Outstanding On Call Worker category at the first-ever San Francisco IHSS Worker Appreciation Celebration.

Former On Call Counselor Esther Libenstein praised Albert as "one of the best On Call workers I have seen. Whenever we've had urgent need of an On Call worker, he has switched his schedule to help us and the consumer. He is willing to take any On Call, even the most difficult ones. His attitude toward caring for people impresses me. I really respect him in a professional way because he takes this so seriously."

Albert refers to his On Call work as "my mystery calls. They're adventures. Some of them are really cool. I meet some interesting people." One such person was a consumer who served on several different mayoral commissions. "He told me about how they discussed different situations in the neighborhoods," Albert recalls, "and what they were planning to do to help them, so I got a little insight on what was about to happen before it was in the papers."

In addition to his emergency On Call work, Albert assists regular Registry consumers as well. He finds the work rewarding, explaining that "I get some self-satisfaction knowing that I helped someone. I feel worthwhile, and I keep busy. I've gotten close to some of my clients." He regards the best part of being of a home care provider as when "I'm told I'm appreciated, and I know that they really do appreciate what I do.”