by Staff at GoodLife Innovations, Inc.
It’s hard to be prepared for a crisis that we never saw coming. We are saddened and alarmed by the quick spread of COVID-19 cases across the nation — especially among vulnerable populations, like those we serve. From what we’ve learned, the pandemic can exhaust all of the extra capacity agencies think they have, from direct support professionals (DSP) to the C-level executives. In addition, providers continue to face delays in funding and widening gaps between medical waiver reimbursements and the cost of care. In the midst of this pandemic, a different crisis is emerging — a workforce crisis unlike anything our industry has experienced before.
As a home and community-based service (HCBS) provider, GoodLife is actively working to weather this storm and we are relying on our unique staffing strategies in neighborhoods and private homes to protect residents and staff. We know that as the number of different people involved in care goes down, care quality goes up. That’s why in our neighborhood homes we staff using front/back teams on flexible schedules, which also allow ample time for rest and recuperation and enables staff and clients to essentially shelter in place together. In the midst of the coronavirus, these strategies are a tremendous asset.
“The innovative schedule strategies and workforce solutions we use add to overall capacity and enable us to draw on our reserves with minimal burden,” says Megan Todd, GoodLife’s Director of Strategy and Development; “this is a key to stability in a time of crisis.”
Increasing Needs Require Established Stability
States across the country are struggling to find necessary financial help in the midst of COVID-19, and people with disabilities are often last in line for funding. We don’t yet know the impact the coronavirus is going to have on agencies long term, but we do know the need will increase as waiting lists for intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and aging services continue to rise.
“More than 50% of individuals with I/DD are cared for by a family member instead of a service provider, in some cases due to the lack of quality alternatives,” shares Megan. “But 67% of those family caregivers are also baby boomers. They will age into needing care too and frankly, the care industry is not prepared for this. We need to be able to do more with the resources that we have. If we go into rapid growth mode without established stability, it will cause more harm than good to the quality of care.”
Leveraging More from Our Workforce
While we didn’t see COVID-19 coming, GoodLife is grateful for the stability it feels despite the unstable times. As a provider ourselves and an innovator in non-traditional service models and approaches, we are positioned to help other provider agencies reimagine their approach to labor and direct support staffing models. They, too, can save money across the agency, have lower turnover, provide higher quality care, and pay staff more in a time when finances are critical.
In our two-hour Workforce 101 workshop, GoodLife President and CEO Dr. Mike Strouse outlines the causes of workforce instability that we all face: high and rising labor costs, low unemployment, a dwindling direct care workforce, increases in both minimum wage and insurance costs, and the decline of funding per person for services despite the growth in need and expense. He also shares practical and innovative strategies to address these challenges and ways to leverage more from a workforce that provides greater capacity for agencies and provides more shifts and higher pay for staff.
After the workshop, GoodLife can provide an analysis and cost-proposal. Our experienced team creates a schedule strategy based on an individual agency’s current baseline data to show how much money they can save and capacity they can gain without costing overtime. Once the analysis is complete, our team is available to guide agencies through implementation of the cost-saving (and capacity building) strategies.
“Understandably, agencies are concerned about their stability during times of crisis,” Megan explains. “There’s money on the table, usually within the means of existing Medicaid waivers. With just a little bit of innovation, we can help agencies increase capacity, stability, and wages with funding they already have.”
Partnering to Provide Better Care for Vulnerable Populations
The current reality is that HCBS providers are on the brink of survival. If they don’t make it through this pandemic and season of increasing need, there will be a massive impact on our most vulnerable populations. Alternatives for care are institutions, congregate care, nursing facilities, and group homes, which we know have a much higher fatality rate when it comes to COVID-19.
Every day we’re working on innovative workforce and labor strategies to help HCBS providers build a sustainable framework that ultimately leads to improved care for seniors and individuals with I/DD. We would love to talk with you and discover how our labor strategies can improve your organization’s margins. Together, we can find stability in the current crisis as well as the ones that may be on the horizon.