By Theresa Schnipke, Superintendent
During the past year, we were selected to be part of a statewide initiative to bring County Boards of DD together with our local providers to creatively and collaboratively address quality issues in our service delivery system. Jana McVetta, Director of Quality & Support Services, and I were part of the Allen County team, as well as Ryan Knodel of Benchmark Human Services and David Bloom, Janet Seward and Jennifer Fisher of IHS Services. Together we met with the larger statewide group and then back here in Allen County we met with our local Provider Group on this project.
In meetings in Columbus, we were able to learn from the other county boards and providers that were participating. We heard several presentations from around the state on projects that have made a difference in hiring and training direct support professionals (staff/care providers/HPC staff). We came up with long and short-term goals on what we might try in Allen County. We are grateful to have received grant money to help with some of the cost of these goals. We embraced the attitude that the concerns our Providers face with staffing are also our concerns, as it impacts those we support every day. We cannot simply say ‘this provider needs to…’ or ‘that provider does not…’ We are a team and in saying that we are committed to helping each other.
Some local outcomes: We started hosting ‘Learning Lunches’ which have garnered lots of support. These lunches are held monthly and the topics are not so much driven towards the ‘field’ of DD, as to give DSPs a place to network and learn about personal or professional topics (like how to deal with holiday stress, quick and easy meals, and personal financial management). Contact Karen McCullough, Medicaid Quality Specialist, for more information.
We offered an initial DSP orientation and CPR/First Aid for new provider staff. This was an effort to help providers cut their overhead costs in HR with the turnover being seen in our field. Day One was Orientation and Day Two was CPR/First Aid. We found after providing this for 6 months that it was not used consistently by more than one provider. We will continue to offer the CPR/First Aid once per month.
One of the other more popular ideas was a Success Coach that was offered the summer of 2017 and the summer of 2018. Providers were able to ask for assistance from Erin Koenig, Behavior Support Specialist at the Board, to make home visits to provide technical assistance, observation, mentoring, etc. The Providers who participated felt these services made the biggest impact on improving quality and decreasing behavioral incidents, which leads to overall quality of life for all. It has been suggested by providers to continue this help year round.
We also provided some startup funds for DSPOhio.org with many other County Boards of DD across the state to hopefully encourage more workers to apply for the jobs available in our field. This site allows providers to create profile pages to share about their agency and allows potential job applicants to submit their information to their potential employer all online.
Our time on this pilot project will end in August 2018 as a new group will be taking on this challenge. However, we also know that our work is not finished! We will keep pushing forward with our providers at our monthly Provider Group meetings. Stay tuned for more ideas to help with the DSP shortage. If you or someone you know is looking for work, our providers have a job for you!