GoodLife & Koinonia: Partnering to stabilize the DSP workforce and improve care

GoodLife & Koinonia: Partnering to stabilize the DSP workforce and improve care

GoodLife envisions a world where neighbors, technology, and care come together to support an empowering, connected, and purposeful community for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Our proven models of care are proof that this vision can be a reality. To expand the capacity of community service providers nationwide, we’re sharing what we know works through GoodLife U – an integrated toolbox of accessible, practical, and affordable solutions to enable agencies to do more with limited resources.  

Seeing the potential of an I/DD provider partnership with GoodLife U 

GoodLife U partners with mission-driven organizations across the country to achieve win-win-win solutions for sustainably, improving the lives of people who need support, the direct support professionals (DSPs) who provide care, and the service provider. Together we share resources, leverage costs, and increase capacity while preserving each agency’s independence and improving its bottom-line.

Northeast Ohio’s largest I/DD Service Provider

Koinonia, the largest I/DD service provider in northeast Ohio, shares GoodLife’s dedication to collaborative communities that accept, support, and optimize quality of life for people with disabilities, while continuously seeking new and innovative ways to improve. Our partnership began after Koinonia leadership heard GoodLife CEO Mike Strouse present on GoodLife’s innovative model at an ANCOR conference. 

“Mike was talking about everything that keeps me up at night,” Stacy Soria, Koinonia Chief Strategy & People Officer, says. “It was clear he truly understands the challenges our industry is up against, from quality care and safety for residents to navigating an unstable workforce.”

After deeper conversations with GoodLife, Stacy learned about our tried and proven solutions within several organizations that have resulted in positive outcomes. “I knew immediately that we needed to commit ourselves to GoodLife’s model at Koinonia for sustainability,” Stacy shares. “We needed to take the risk of doing something different, something innovative to support the personal growth and development of our DSPs and residents, so everyone can realize their full potential.” 

Labor solutions lead to healthier outcomes for staff and residents

Koinonia went on to complete Workforce 101, an offering by GoodLife U that uses workforce strategies to empower organizations to do more. Stacy’s team has been working closely with GoodLife for more than a year to implement our labor strategies broadly across its 19 Intermediate Care Facilities and more than 50 supported living arrangements within three Ohio counties. 

Koinonia also leveraged members of the GoodLife team to build capacity for its team. For example, Koinonia recruiters sat in on GoodLife recruiting sessions to understand the process and share best practices through the lens of GoodLife’s model. This shadowing experience was replicated with Koinonia’s vacancy coordinators and C-level leadership, enabling them to think critically and understand a day-in-the-life using GoodLife’s labor strategies.  

An I/DD Provider of Choice with Integrated, Whole-Person Care

Koinonia’s goal is to be the employer and provider of choice – delivering the highest possible quality of life through integrated, whole-person care. In order to accomplish that, it needs to be strategic and intentional. Stacy believes their staff of over 600 (of which 85% are DSPs) are deeply committed to Koinonia’s mission, but face the challenges of this industry with little relief. GoodLife’s work proves that a healthy work/life balance results in greater staff commitment, satisfaction, and sustainability. 

“The most important thing to us is to improve the quality of life for the individuals we serve,” Stacy says. “To get there, we knew we had to first stabilize our workforce by decreasing turnover, reducing burnout, and making this an all-around better place for our DSPs to work. Together with GoodLife, we are achieving that.” 

Peace of Mind for DSPs

Since the implementation of new, innovative schedules and pay strategies, Stacy has received positive feedback from staff. As one DSP told Stacy, “Now that my schedule is set in stone, my children are more comfortable because they know when I will be home to take care of their needs. I don’t have to use as much PTO or worry about being unable to come into work.  I also have peace of mind knowing that I will be with my residents for 12 hours a day – it gives me time to be in the moment with them.”

It will be hard, but worth it

Stacy reminisced a little bit about the process they undertook this last year. “The process to implement was HARD for staff and managers,” Stacy said, “not knowing all of the ‘why’ behind the changes being made.  BUT NOW, those same staff are speaking up about how happy they are and about how their quality of life has improved tremendously. We even had a manager share that this week was the first time her schedule didn’t include direct care hours she had to cover – and stories like this are all over the place. I am so grateful we didn’t let the challenges of change keep us from all of the rewards.”  

The risk of change leads to a transformed I/DD community

Looking ahead, Stacy believes the potential for what this partnership can achieve is endless. Koinonia is interested in understanding more about the Neighborhood Network and how to leverage iLink technologies to provide better services for the individuals it serves. “GoodLife has been a truly collaborative partner. Like any good relationship, we are learning from one another,”  Stacy shares. “The most important thing I have learned from this partnership is that while implementing change feels risky, there is much more risk in not changing. The changes we’ve made have been transformational for our community.”

Learn more about how GoodLife U can help you transform your organization and add margin to your mission. We’ve got just two  spots left for the class of 2021 and would love to partner with you.
Interested in a meaningful career that offers schedule flexibility and work/life balance? Check out our career opportunities here.

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