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The True Impact of the Direct Support Workforce Crisis

Direct support professionals (DSPs) play a vital role within the direct care field. These professionals provide assistance and care to those individuals with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. One of the most important jobs of a DSP is understanding the importance of inclusion and integration.

Having a well-trained, efficient DSP workforce is essential for direct care organizations that offer remote and facility-based caregiving services. However, the current nationwide crisis currently affecting the direct support field is making it hard for provider organizations to work efficiently.

The Crisis

The inadequate funding of programs in the DSP workforce has contributed to the field’s 45% annual turnover rate and a 9% vacancy rate. With so many direct support workers leaving the field on a yearly basis, it has become more difficult for remaining DSP workers to take on the increased workload. The high demand for direct support professionals, but lack of people available for the job, is threatening not only the lives of the individuals in need of DSP’s caregiving services but also their community and family members surrounding them.

The crisis has also left caregiving organizations with limited funds, resources, and time to properly train DSP newcomers. Therefore, since proper training is a compliance requirement of caregiving organizations, people can’t enter the workforce since they do not acquire the knowledge of ethical principles, practices, and skills necessary to provide adequate care for individuals with developmental, physical, or intellectual disabilities. 

The Spiraling Effect

With Medicaid currently being the primary source of funding for DSP programs, the pay wage for direct support professionals is low. The average wage for DSPs is $10.72 an hour. For many DSPs, this wage is nowhere near enough to support themselves or their family members. 

The lack of funding also means that there is a lack of appropriate workforce benefits. The field’s lack of funding and low pay wages has made it difficult for DSPs to afford health insurance and the inability to take paid time off (PTO) days. The lack of benefits is causing a lower quality of work being provided by healthcare workers. These problems tend to exacerbate each other, contributing to overall low morale for a DSP work experience.

How the Crisis Affects Consumers

Under the direct support workforce crisis’ working conditions, it has become difficult to provide the proper care essential for individuals receiving services. Quality training is essential to see quality support. Direct Care organizations need well-paid and well-trained DSPs to ensure they have the proper toolkit needed to be able to adjust their skills to fit an individual’s specific requirements. 

In addition, the shortage of DSP workers means an increased workload for each direct support worker. The increased workload is making it extremely difficult to provide high-quality care to each individual they care for. However, working towards improving the turnover rate can help to combat this.

If something isn’t done to address the workplace crisis, it will only worsen as time goes on and inflation continues to rise at its current rate. Additionally, the demand for direct support care will only continue to surge as the baby boomer population ages. Therefore, as long as there is a lack of funding, a lack of training, low wages, and limited benefits, all of these factors will make it harder to provide direct support to individuals with developmental, physical, or intellectual disabilities.

How DCI Could Help

Direct Care Innovations is creating business management platforms for caregiving organizations to help promote a more sustainable future. Our software can lessen the burden direct care organizations face by offering a one-stop-shop for healthcare resources. The shift to electronic monitoring means business administrations can direct more time in resources to caregiving and leave the busy work to technology. Contact us for a sales demo at (480) 295-3307 to learn more about our mission, our vision, our values, and our goals today!

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