Investing in our Direct-care Workforce

“It was just a great recharge!”

“I felt appreciated and also it was like a reboot and a boost for all of us!”

I liked best that it was “a day to relax and learn and take a mental break from the everyday chaos.”

Those are just a handful of the comments from our DSPs, LRCS’ Direct Support Professionals, following two days of a Training Retreat designed specifically for them, and held last month at the beautiful Barn on the Pemi in Plymouth. Two nationally-renown speakers/trainers from the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals headlined a day-long interactive training that—with humor and a national perspective—illuminated and underscored the vital role that DSPs play in delivering the mission of LRCS. DSPs were encouraged, challenged, and taught a variety of new skills. They had a chance to connect with colleagues whom they don’t normally get to work with, and to see themselves as part of the whole, and as key agents of delivering the LRCS mission. They were well fed and nourished in both body and mind, and judging from the overall feedback received, they felt genuinely appreciated and valued—which they most certainly are!

But such a retreat, or any training at all really, is not possible through the traditional funding that pays for LRCS’ services; neither Federal nor State contracts allow for reimbursement for employee training or for any kind of professional development. LRCS made the investment, nonetheless, thanks to support from the LRCS Foundation. The charitable dollars that individuals and local businesses give to us is what made this possible.

Nation-wide, there is a crisis-level shortage of direct-care professionals. Industry-wide, wages are modest; the work is often difficult; and the career opportunities and external rewards are few. Annual staff turnover rates hover around an extraordinary 40% in many organizations! Direct-care professionals are notoriously under-paid, over-worked, and under-appreciated. There’s no way that doesn’t impact care. Equally, investing in our DSPs impacts care—but in a positive way. LRCS is fortunate to have a corps of outstanding Direct-Service professionals, and we are grateful to have been able to make the investment in them that we did through the Retreat last month. Our donors and supporters made this possible. And it’s a powerful example of how vital such philanthropic dollars are in helping us to ensure uncompromised care for the people we serve!