Providing Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic
What Would You Like Your Employer to Do Differently?
Providing Additional Pay
“I would love if the employer would give essential workers, like myself, an increase in pay, since I am coming into work to help and support the individuals each and every day.”
“I would like for them to increase pay or even a simple bonus for putting ourselves at risk during the pandemic.”
“Pay a fair wage and not a one-time bonus.”
“Add hazard pay. We are already underpaid – only 9.50 an hour for DSPs. We should be making more for working during the pandemic. If I were unemployed, I would be making more.”
Nearly half of the respondents cited providing additional pay as something they would like their employer to do differently. Low pay is a widely acknowledged problem in the direct support workforce and it is compounded by the economic hardship produced by the pandemic. Some asked for a bonus or hazard pay to compensate them fairly for the increased risk they face in doing their essential work. Most stated plainly that they need an increase in their hourly wage.
Greater Support on the Job
“Calling every now and then just to say thank you or even checking on the people that we are working with. Send a go out to dinner or lunch card. Something to say thank you.”
“Come into the homes and give us a hand instead of working from home. We could use the extra help. It wouldn't be so exhausting. We cannot even take a needed day off because there is no one to cover.”
“Allow some personal time to regroup and relax, without making us feel guilty or that our jobs are in jeopardy for taking some personal time.”
DSPs also asked their employers for greater support on the job. In addition to financial support in the form of bonuses or higher wages, they cited the need for encouragement and assistance from leadership.
Better Communication and Clear Safety Guidelines
“I would like to see better communication e.g. when another staff has been potentially exposed, I (as well as my co-workers) would like to be apprised of this and to be informed as to what measures are being taken. In the event of this occurring, I would like to see immediate access to testing. Ideally, periodic testing would be optimum, as we have close physical contact with the people whom we serve.”
“Take social distancing seriously. Close down the day program to practice social distancing. Have staff meetings over zoom instead of in person.”
DSPs asked for better communication and clear safety guidelines to follow, including social distancing.
Sufficient Supplies and Decreased Demands on Documentation
“My employer has instructed us to disinfect areas around our client's home that were utilized during our shifts; however, they have not provided us with tools to do so. Disinfecting products are currently very difficult to find and would have to be paid out of pocket if found. They have also encouraged us to wear face mask and gloves when out in the community but[have]not provided us with any. If you are instructing us to obey these rules provided us with the necessary tools to do so.”
“Relax documentarian requirements. Decrease pressure to complete paperwork/data entry that takes time away from caring for the individuals served and self-care.”
They also sought support from their employers through sufficient supplies of protective gear, such as masks and gowns, and disinfectants. Some DSPs also sought support in way of decreased demands on documentation.
More than 800 Respondents said their employers were doing a good job
“My employer has really stepped up to the plate assuring that the individuals we support and the staff are safe.”
“Our bosses are doing such an awesome job. I’m glad to be part of our company and we have a great team all working together. Great job!”
Even with the many challenges and disruptions of working through the pandemic, many respondents said they didn’t want their employer to do anything differently. More than 800 said their employer was doing good, great, amazing, or fantastic work.
Recognition for Essential Work
“Upper management needs to come up with something to appreciate their staff who are putting themselves in harm’s way every day and not by doing small pizza parties. Show staff that you care by giving something extra in the pay.”
“Showing appreciation with balloons is patronizing.”
“Appreciate that they wouldn't have a company without us and stop treating us like firewood.”
DSPs noted they want to be recognized for their essential work and shown proper appreciation. Unlike doctors or nurses, the work of DSPs is not well understood and is often invisible to the larger community, and measures of appreciation vary greatly by agency.