Providing Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic

What Is the Best Thing Your Employer Has Done to Support You?

Looking out for DSP health and wellbeing

“[Employers] provided all necessary PPE supplies for the staff to maintain a safe continuity of care for its individuals.”

“Seeing that nurses in hospitals that are dealing with COVID-19 patients are NOT getting the proper PPE I am so thankful and glad that we are!”

The overall best thing employers did to supports DSPs during the pandemic, reported by DSPs, was to look out for their health and wellbeing by providing personal protective equipment, making their safety and that of the people they supported a priority.

Good communication and frequent updates

Being supportive, keeping us trained and updated on information and providing us with protective supplies.”

“They keep us updated on things. They have zoom meeting every week so we can talk about the virus and if we have any concerns.”

Maintaining good communication and providing frequent updates on COVID-19 and best practices in safety procedures was frequently mentioned way employers supported DSPs. Checking-in with staff through calls, emails, texts, and Zoom meetings was appreciated.

Additional Pay

“Gave me a bonus which did make me feel a little more appreciated.”

“Our employer always shows that she cares about all her employees. Because of our employer's hard work, we have been able to get paid extra during this pandemic. This extra pay really helps me a lot to take care of my family, it's been cost[ing] me more since my child's school was closed, more food the usual/higher utility bills than usual.”

“Hazard pay of $2 more per hour, but not sure for how long they intend to continue with the hazard pay.”

Respondents cited additional pay as the best thing their employer did to support them. For some, this was a one-time bonus. For others, the increase was as much as $2 per hour.

Showing concern and expressing appreciation

“They've called many times to make sure that I'm doing OK.  They're also concerned about my clients’ well-being.”

“They are kind and show gratitude. Providing donated food and milk to help me feed my family. Their hands are tied regarding accessing PPEs, increasing wage base, and relief staff.”

Being supportive of their staff, through showing concern and expressing appreciation, was also noted among the best things that employers did during the early months of the pandemic. The concern demonstrated by some employers included listening to DSPs and showing that they understood and cared. Some showed their appreciation for the dedication of their staff through gift cards and meals.

Making accommodations to work schedules

“They changed our schedule from an agonizing 12-hour shift back to a normal eight-hour shift. That I greatly appreciate it!”                                   

Allowed me to cut back my hours in order to facilitate my children’s online schooling.”

Making accommodations to work schedules was another way employers supported their DSPs. This was complicated by shifting schedules for the people they supported, as day programs and employment sites were often closed or had significantly modified hours. With so many schools closed, many DSPs had to juggle work with childcare and helping their children with distance learning. The ability for some to work from home or to have flexibility in their schedules was critical in keeping them employed as DSPs.

Some employers had done little or nothing

“My employer has not done much at all, unfortunately. Give us face masks is the only thing they've really done.”

“Support? Nothing other than I’m still employed.”

“In my opinion, not much support comes from my agency itself. I feel that I receive more support from the parents of the participants I work with.”

 “Nothing from the office management staff. The in-house manager is amazing! He listens and cares about the residents and staff.”

Some DSPs reported that their employer had done little or nothing to support them during the early months of the pandemic. For many, receiving face masks or occasional updates was not seen as providing meaningful support or showing DSPs they are valued. Others reported that their agency told them verbally that they were valued but took no actions to demonstrate this. A number of DSPs noted that their direct managers were supportive and appreciative of their work but not senior management.