Program Profile

Impact Feature Issue on Direct Support Workforce Development

NTIFFS Profile #3: The Potomac Center


David Lowright is Executive Director at Potomac Center, Romney, WV.

Those of us who have long been in the business of serving and supporting people with developmental disabilities know that one of the major challenges is the performance of DSPs. The quality of their work is affected by many factors, but a primary one is the effectiveness of support and supervision they receive. In short, if we want good DSPs, we need great Frontline Supervisors. Faced by this challenge, we were happy to participate in NTIFFS. That training was stimulating and hectic, but fun, and it introduced us to the “Removing the Revolving Door” curriculum. That exposed us to a wealth of research-based materials, but more importantly allowed us to interact with its authors, and to learn with people from other states who shared similar problems but maybe had different solutions. Together there was a synergy that strengthened our determination to improve supervision. Returning from train-the-trainer sessions, we trained our Frontline Supervisors using the curriculum. Not only did they benefit from it, but training revealed strengths and skills we didn't know they had. It became a real catalyst for change.

While we looked at many potential areas for improvement, we settled on three: Realistic Job Previews (RJP), changes in new employee orientation, and development of a mentoring program. The RJP is used to screen job applicants, and also to set some expectations concerning the work we do. Orientation was changed from just covering the mind-numbing regulatory requirements to focus on welcoming and acclimating new employees into our organizational culture. Mentoring pairs a new DSP with a more seasoned staff member who assists the new employee in learning their responsibilities.

NTIFFS has been a good beginning on the path to quality we must continue to take. The people we support deserve no less.