Possibility Unleashed: The 2023 ANCOR Annual Conference
by Mike Strouse, GoodLife Innovations, Inc.
In our last episode of the GoodLife U video blog series, Dr. Mike Strouse walked us through the Problem with Wonky Schedules, how they came to be so logically illogical, and what we would prefer instead. If you remember, a Wonky Schedule actually never delivers individualized care, smaller homes/settings, Direct Support Professional (DSP) satisfaction, or agency stability.
Today we are going to offer a bird’s eye view of the different types of DSP schedules used by GoodLife in what Mike calls our “Five Faucet Theory.”
Collectively, when all our faucets are turned on, we have a portfolio of standardized schedules that work with our service models to improve DSP stability and increase our ability to provide high-quality, individualized home and community-based services.
Let’s take a closer look at each faucet.
The 5 Day Workweek
This is probably the most well-known schedule. It’s been used by agencies for a long time, but comes with some particular challenges–especially for providers who staff around-the-clock. The 5-Day workweek puts high reliance on part time positions (leaving 2 “uncovered” days each week) and has the highest schedule migration. As a result, DSPs who work 5 days/week are often left with split or fractured schedules and zero capacity to work extra. At GoodLife, we do utilize the 5-Day workweek to provide limited support for traditional day services (especially for people who live at home with families), but it is not our primary or only faucet. It must be used in conjunction with other schedules within the portfolio.
As we’ve discussed before, the national average for full to part-time staff is 69% and 31% respectively. But we do not want to rely on an uninvested, part-time workforce to provide professional care. To make part-time staff successful, they need to be paired with well-trained, full-time staff. When using the 5-Day workweek, part-time staff are filling in gaps in the evenings and on the weekends, when supervisors and other full-time employees are often not working. These schedules are difficult to fill with any consistency since, often, the employees who want part-time work are also transient, in school, or have other commitments that will dictate their availability. As a result, part-time DSPs don’t have the ability to work extra, are unstable, and have the highest risk. Same as the 5-Day workweek, GoodLife utilizes some part-time positions, but it accounts for only 4% of our workforce–and we are extremely proud of this.
The Front/Back Half Workweek
The Front/Back Half workweek is GoodLife’s primary go-to. It’s unique, but has been designed specifically to cover all 24 hours in a day–including weekends–with fewer transitions, and more stability. Generally, this schedule has DSPs working 12-13 hours per day, three (3) days a week. The “Front Half” team works Sunday, plus 2-3 days (Monday through Wednesday). The “Back Half” team works Saturday, plus 2-3 days (Wednesday through Friday). Wednesday is our swing day, that can be covered by either a Front Half or Back Half DSP team member who is willing to work extra, or can be covered by a DSP who will move across homes Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday.
This approach offers a number of benefits, including:
- 16 days off a month before PTOs. Fundamentally, GoodLife offers more days off each month than days worked–that’s real work/life balance!
- Greater capacity to work extra. When you have 4 days off each week organically, picking up an extra shift does not cost as much.
- Better weekend and evening coverage. We always have full-time staff working in our homes on the weekends. This is better for our managers and better for the individuals served.
- Lower call-off rates. It’s costly to call off for a shift in the Front/Back workweek–that shift represents one-third of your weekly pay. Also, why call off when you can trade?
- Greater pay. When combined with GoodLife’s pay strategies, the Front/Back approach gives the agency as much as 10-15% more buying power. We are excited to explain this in more detail in an upcoming episode!
- Greater flexibility. Unlimited shift trading, fewer trips to work required each week, and fewer days of child care needed all provide essential flexibility to the DSP workforce.
- Less schedule migration. Each schedule holds equal appeal, either by days worked or compensation. As a result, DSPs won’t spend as much time looking for “better schedules” or pillaging the vacancies. We can hire quickly and efficiently.
- Fewer different people involved in care. When there are fewer transitions across the day and fewer different people involved in care, it means that care quality and stability improve.
- More efficient and less variable labor costs. GoodLife has almost NO unexpected overtime costs. We can help you accomplish this, too!
Plus, when combined with our premium pay strategies, the benefits of GoodLife’s Front/Back Half workweek continue to grow.
Live By/With DSPs
At GoodLife we also use a number of different DSPs who live with, next door, or down the street from the individuals served. These include our Professional Neighbors, Professional Roommates, and Professional Families (shared living).
These approaches can be used on their own, or in combination with other deployment strategies and iLink Technologies to cost effectively deliver care that ebbs and flows around intermittent needs.
Remember, no singular schedule will solve the problems we face. We need all Five Faucets to be pumping DSPs into our hiring pipeline. Each one represents a specific need within the agency that can be filled by a dedicated caregiver. Collectively, they can offer critical organizational stability and capacity, driving your commitment to improving the lives of individuals served and the DSP heroes making a difference each day.
Next time, we will walk you through how to get organized with these scheduling techniques and we can’t wait!
Are you interested in using the Front/Back Workweek at your agency? Not sure where to start? We would love to help. Our GoodLife U team can analyze the impact these approaches could have for your organization specifically (that might look like this), and can walk you through the implementation process. Please contact Megan Todd to set up a personalized meet and greet with our team–we would love to partner with you.
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Mike Strouse is President/CEO of GoodLife Innovations. For more than 30 years Mike has led GoodLife Innovations, Inc. and its subsidiaries. Mike’s extensive work encompasses research, development, refinement, and dissemination of evidence-based, nationally-regarded, community service models that consistently produce person-centered care and high quality-of-life outcomes for those served.