Impact Feature Issue on Direct Support Workforce Development
NTIFFS Profile #6: Community Entry Services
Training supervisors who may be as far apart as 350 miles is always a challenge. Through the NTIFFS project 23 of our 24 supervisors had access to online training through the College of Frontline Supervision and Management, helping them learn to evaluate turnover and retention statistics, improve DSP teamwork, support new DSPs, and recognize long-term efforts of other DSPs. While we wanted to try all of the intervention strategies to fix all the problems at once, in the end we developed small teams of participants to implement several new strategies. Among the changes we implemented were the following:
- Revised job descriptions and duties to include skill sets from the community residential core competencies in the curriculum. This provided staff with a clearer picture of their responsibilities.
- Completed a written Realistic Job Preview (RJP) that is now required reading for people interviewing for positions. This resulted in some people not completing interviews, relieving our organization of high training costs for people who would have left within the first couple of weeks. This RJP is also used as a recruiting tool at job fairs.
- Developed a mentoring program. Upon completion of the pilot project, where 10 DSPs acted as mentors, a mentoring program was implemented for all new DSPs. Both mentors and mentees agree that this helps in building co-worker relationships and learning new job duties. We discovered we needed to make certain that mentors work the same shift and possibly even at the same site. This makes accessibility to the mentor possible when the questions arise. Mentoring has allowed us to recognize long-term DSPs who are dedicated to the job and can help others learn the job.
The one challenge I was unable to overcome was finding an individual at each of the other organizations from Wyoming who would be the driving force behind “Removing the Revolving Door” training at their organizations. One organization started to implement training and all Frontline Supervisors were excited, but when that key person left the organization the training ended.
Based on our experience with NTIFFS, I would say to others that if you find your organization at a plateau, provide training for your Frontline Supervisors. When they feel important enough to receive more education, they will use the training to help their DSPs feel important. When DSPs are important enough to have the support of their supervisors, the services provided to those we support can only be called excellent.