The State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis 2022
COVID-19 has made GoodLife’s iLink technology and labor strategies even more relevant to the people we support, our staff and our partners. As we continue to redefine what’s possible for inclusion with seniors and people with disabilities, COVID-19 has prompted many new ways of delivering care at the place and moment of need. While our well-established model of care helped us react to the coronavirus, we are certainly continuing to learn new things as we adapt.
It’s our pleasure to share what we’ve learned with others in the industry and welcome questions from organizations across the country about our models, technologies and solutions. GoodLife’s CEO, Dr. Mike Strouse, participated in a roundtable discussion at this year’s ANCOR Policy Summit, Leading Beyond Crisis. And recently, the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP), along with ANCOR and the University of Minnesota, recognized our best practices in workforce development, awarding GoodLife with the 2020 Moving Mountains Award. We continue to view these platforms and accolades as opportunities to advance our mission to make a meaningful difference in the everyday lives of seniors, people with disabilities, and those who support them.
Turning Challenges into Opportunities
This summer, we shared how GoodLife adapted to COVID-19 by closing our day services and providing in-home services only. We actually prefer this arrangement because we think that the best day services are delivered inclusively and organically throughout the day. “When I want to participate in an activity in my community, I don’t go to a center. I leave my home with the people in my life and I go to the store, or the movie theater, or the park,” says CEO Mike Strouse. “Recognizing how we can shift our models to reflect more organic ways of doing life is a positive outcome of the pandemic. And we always like to find the positive in the midst of challenges.”
Our iLink technology already allows us to serve people remotely, but COVID-19 has made us analyze every aspect of our program to see how we can be even more virtual and available. This in-depth look has motivated our nursing services to increase remote availability during the pandemic. It has prompted us to create neighborhood microclinics that connect with larger off-site wellness clinics to make meaningful at-home health connections. “A remote tool, like a blood pressure cuff, isn’t helpful to an off-site clinic if the resident on the other end isn’t trained in how to use it. What’s great about our neighborhoods is that each home has staff trained to utilize our remote tools to help our residents get the care they need without ever leaving home”, shares Mike. “This is a huge innovation, not only during COVID-19 but long into the future as care needs change.”
It’s clear that technology alone cannot provide the support individuals with significant needs require. Many of the people we support need 24-hour face-to-face care, and we are positioned to do this safely as we head into an uncertain future with COVID-19. In fact, our hiring and onboarding process is now completely virtual. We find that candidates are more comfortable in interviews when able to talk with us in their own environment. Plus, eliminating the need to travel to our offices gives candidates and new hires more time in their day for other personal needs. “As a result of our success with virtual hiring, we are now focused on proximity hiring”, says Mike. “Aside from our innovative job schedules, we’ve learned that close proximity to work makes people happier. We are working to match staff to neighborhoods that are geolocated closer to home. That’s exciting.”
Coming Together for an Inclusive World
Looking to what’s next for GoodLife through a COVID-19 lens, we understand that not everyone may want to move to one of our neighborhoods. We’re exploring a mobile solution to deliver care to individuals everywhere they call home, using the science we’ve developed for our neighborhoods. “We’ve always prioritized inclusion, for individuals with I/DD, seniors, family members . . . everyone,” says Mike. “As I look ahead, I’m especially excited about truly supporting a neighborhood and all the needs in it. I want GoodLife to be a champion for innovation, collaboration, inclusion, and strong communities.” We would love to talk about how we can partner with you for a bright and creative future.