Imagine! serves individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) in the Colorado counties of Boulder and Broomfield. Like most I/DD service providers, Imagine!’s service delivery is very labor intensive. Finding enough qualified workers has always been difficult, but the unemployment rate in Boulder County is currently at historically low levels, making finding qualified workers especially challenging. In addition, many in our growing elderly population desire personal supports that are similar to the personal supports for those with I/DD. This means that for the foreseeable future Imagine! will be facing increased competition for services coupled with a shrinking workforce available to provide those services.
In short – Imagine! is short workers and needs to find more.
To address this critical need, Imagine! has reimagined how (and who) they recruit to fill these positions by developing an app called “Imaginect” (pronounced imagine – eckt), which takes an Uber-style approach to employee recruiting, engaging a team of on-demand employees pulled from typically underutilized labor pools such as college students or retirees.
Imaginect is about flipping Imagine!’s approach to workforce recruiting on its head. Traditionally, Imagine! caregivers are hired as “one size fits all” employees who are expected to work standard 8-hour shifts performing direct care duties as well as tasks such as cooking for clients and cleaning homes. Imaginect assigns tasks such as cooking, janitorial work, or simple care giving duties to the on-demand employees.
Since these tasks don’t require full shifts, the on-demand employees can use Imaginect to select times, dates, and locations convenient for them, vastly increasing Imagine!’s available labor pool and allowing the organization to tap into the local University of Colorado’s student population. Using the on-demand labor pool for simple non-direct care tasks frees up time for full-time Imagine! employees to focus on other job duties designed with a goal of providing more opportunities for individuals with I/DD to become active, participating members of their communities.
Imagine! is currently pilot testing this app for finding on-demand employees for one of its residential sites, and while the data is very preliminary, the initial results are encouraging. Eventually, Imagine! hopes to use this app to bolster their workforce for day services such as employment services and life enrichment classes for adults with I/DD, as well as for early intervention services, after school, and summer camp programs for children with I/DD.
In the spirit of self-determination and self-directed services, Imagine! also hopes for a future where families will use Imaginect to direct their own trusted and qualified workforce to meet their unique needs.