Thursday, February 17, 2011

Rising Expectations the DD Act Revisited:

The National Council on Disability published a report analyzing the multiple components of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act, or the DD Act.

The report highlights many issues including waiting lists, fragmented services and the rising issues associated with Direct Care Professionals (aka Direct Care Workers, DCWs).  Below are just a few interesting findings in the study regarding DSPs.  For a review of the full report click here.

"One of the greatest challenges to providing community supports for people with DD is finding and retaining qualified direct support workers (DSWs). Some call DSWs the "backbone of the long-term care system." DSWs provide services in residential settings, family homes, their own homes, community job sites, vocational and day training settings, schools, and other settings. The positions may include special education paraprofessionals, supported employment counselors, community home staff, home health aides, and a host of other position titles. Their jobs require them to help children and adults with DD with basic health and self-care needs, but they also play a central role in assisting people with DD to gain skills, participate in community life, develop social relationships, make decisions and judgments, and become more independent.

The absence of reliable data to measure the supply of DSWs who work in a variety of settings makes it difficult to quantify the extent of the shortage and turnover rates. However, estimates suggest that 625,000 DSWs support people with DD. The vacancy rate is 6 to 17 percent, and the turnover rate is 52 percent per year (Hewitt & Larson, 2007).

This shortage is expected to be problematic over time as the need for services increases. The growing U.S. population, increasing life expectancy for people with DD, aging of family caregivers, national commitment to and steady expansion of community-based and home services combine to increase the demand for DSWs. Factors affecting the shortage and high turnover rate of qualified DSWs include low wages, few benefits, lack of recognition, and the lack of quality training and career advancement opportunities.

Between the high turnover rate and the expanded need for services and supports, DD programs need to recruit and train more than 300,000 DSWs per year nationwide"

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