As an advocate for our citizens with developmental disabilities, I am very concerned about the rapid proliferation of physical buildings without the same efforts being put towards recruitment and RETENTION of our Direct Support Professionals. I would like to know what our Washington State Developmental Disabilities Council and the P&A Agency, Disability Rights Washington, are doing with regards to the lack of Direct Support Professional (DSP). What are other advocacy agencies such as our Washington State Arc chapters doing to address this very critical issue?
I have seen a lot of legislation and push to close institutions, open group homes but am I missing the legislation regarding the increase need for trained and quality caregivers? Shouldn’t that come first?
In doing research on the increase in community services, it is clear that we will need an increase in the skill level and numbers of support professionals to safely care for our citizens. “Several studies have identified a number of factors associated with staff turnover among DSPs: (1) As deinstitutionalization continues, the wage gap between institutional (mostly state employed) DSPs and community (mostly privately employed) DSPs has been associated with substantially higher turnover rates in community (2) Community settings were opened much more recently than institutional settings (newer programs experience higher turnover); (3) eligibility for and attractiveness of benefits (turnover is higher in settings that provide benefits to fewer employees); (4) the small size of the community homes (turnover is higher in smaller sites); and (5) the less favorable staff ratios in community homes (turnover is higher in settings with less favorable staff ratios). Report to Congress
The negative impact of high turnover not only affects our residents who need the care but also the staff. The increased workload due to vacancy rates adds to the pressure of the job, which in turn increases frustration, job burnout and on the job stress. The risk of injuries to both residents and staff increases which in turn continues this trend in a downward spiral.
We cannot even consider having a quality community service care model for people with ID/DD without first looking at the direct support staff. The quality and stability of the staff is the backbone to safe, quality care for our loved ones.
The proliferation of physical buildings for “community” care will be useless and actually harmful, without the adequate DSP staff to care for our citizens. We need to build our staff and supports prior to opening facilities and moving people. Without this groundwork we are only setting our communities for crisis oriented life and a revolving door to the emergency rooms and crisis care.