GoodLife U Episode 9: Rise Up, Look Back, Step Forward

We find ourselves nearing the end of the GoodLife U Video Blog Series and wanted to take this opportunity to make sure we rise up, and gain the perspective of our 500 foot view to both look back (at what we’ve learned) and set our sights on our next step forward.

Our GoodLife U series has focused extensively on strategies to help service providers improve the stability of their Direct Support Professional (DSP) workforce. We’ve covered a lot over the last eight episodes! And in our team’s direct work with many of you, we see a great deal in common.  

The strength, resilience, and commitment to our collective mission across all community services providers has been truly energizing and inspiring. As you know, however, we’ve never experienced such challenges. 

ANCOR related when they published the recent national survey of providers  

If you haven’t read ANCOR’s recent study entitled “Estimating the Impact of an Increased Federal Minimum Wage on Direct Support Professionals’ Wages and I/DD Service Providers’ Costs,” please do. Consider this your required reading. The study assesses the “new” deeper DSP crisis and its direct impact on everyone’s mission and the lives of those we serve.  

It’s clear that our workforce is disappearing, but the reasons go beyond just pay, and some of the reasons actually get in the way of you paying more. You’re going to have to take an honest look at these issues if you want to move toward a solution to the labor crisis.

Here are some common barriers:

  • Wonky schedules with split shifts, weird hours, inconsistent days off, etc.;
  • High reliance on part-time labor, especially on weekends and evenings;
  • Early turnover (within 30-90 days) of DSPs because they are placed in environments where they are working increasingly alone, without support or supervision; 
  • Working short due to openings; and
  • Perhaps the most unsettling is an increasingly high reliance on PRN and pool staffing.   

All of these barriers increase costs and cause us to deliver care with far too many different people involved in care. Remember the number of different people involved in care is a better metric than turnover rates because it takes into account staff vacancies, the length of time a position is open, and how we replace call offs, PTOs, or vacancies. Each of these factors paint a bigger picture and point to the need for NEW approaches for delivering staff. 

We get it though. This is a season filled with exceptionally difficult challenges and many of you have expressed concern about being able to afford the time it takes to make a meaningful change. We are in a serious situation. Yet you know the definition of insanity: it’s doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.   

While we talked about a system of integrated and multifaceted solutions, our approach always begins with introspection and analysis. When we begin helping other agencies, this is where we start. 

Today, we’d like to encourage you to do your own internal review. Treat it as if you were hired as a consultant to work with your own program. Conduct a 30-minute, high-level program review with your leadership team to assess your current situation and ask some basic questions. 

Answering these questions even with estimates is a good starting point to gaining the insight about what issues you might have and what solutions might be available to help you improve the capacity of your DSP workforce.

We welcome each of you to download these questions and send your answers to us so we might be able to offer some possible simple solutions to consider.  

GoodLife is proud to have developed systems and approaches (staffing and relief staffing models, pay strategies, PTO strategies, and more) that address the workforce barriers we are all facing. We love sharing these solutions with you through this video blog series, our publications, and videos–this is because we are committed to helping you add margin to your mission.

By spending time with our GoodLife U video blog series this year, we hope you have discovered that our solutions to these problems can not only help you breathe easier amidst the workforce crisis but also create significant savings for you to reliably improve DSP pay (by $1.50/hr on average) all within the resources you already have budgeted.

When the minimum wage goes to $15 (and it surely will) we know that we will have to pay 20-25% above and beyond in order to attract and retain staff. Our goal should be to focus nationally on the sub-source fixes of staffing instability while also moving the needle for increasingly inclusive services that comply with the final rule. 

In 2022 our video blog series will focus on next generation services, including implementation and pivot planning for managing key changes–it’s going to be great and we can’t wait to continue this journey toward greater stability and independence with you. In the meantime, we invite you to read our chapter that was recently published in Organizational Behavior Management Approaches for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and if you haven’t already, sign up for the GoodLife Delivered, our monthly e-news. 

From everyone at GoodLife Innovations and iLink Technologies, wishing you a very blessed holiday season with your family and friends; together, we will redefine what’s possible for the next generation of care.

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