For more than 30 years, Boundless’ service mission has been dedicated to improving the lives of individuals with disabilities, committed to providing high quality care. We respect and appreciate the continued dedication of associates who have worked diligently to care for those we serve and persevered under increasingly heavier workloads. We recognize that sustaining our expectation of a high quality service relies on sustaining a workforce that is invested in our mission. This has been increasingly more difficult for all agencies. Open positions, high over time and low levels of retention perpetuate the problem and each year we all seem to lose more traction on the problem rather gain on it.
Fortunately Ohio has had strong leadership within our state government. Our Governor has been a strong supporter of our field and has been able to add money and resources into the system during his two terms. Those resources have flowed through he Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities, who has been lead by another champion for providers and all those trying to provide the supports and services to people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. This year, yet again, we are seeing an investment in our reimbursement to try and give agencies like Boundless more opportunity to strengthen what we do. Even though these increases are incremental and are making up for past neglect, we see this administration shift to increase transportation resources, higher rates for career direct support professionals who have more experience and training, as well as more reimbursement for community engagement in small groups. These initiatives have created more opportunities for agencies to address the challenge of workforce sustainability and capacity.
Betting On Our Employees
Like many agencies, Boundless has attempted to manage their way out of the issue. First we attempted to reduce over time through stricter policies and procedures, but open positions remained a problem. Hiring recruiters to focus time and energy on the process of hiring improved the number of applicants, the vetting process and ultimately allowed for a faster response times so that job offers were happening more effectively than in the past. Still, we could not find enough applicants to work with individuals diagnosed with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, positions that often required lifting and assisting with personal care and light housekeeping as well as following detailed service plans while adhering to extensive regulatory requirements. Boundless engaged extensively with culture building to determine if we somehow we were not creating a work environment that expressed the respect and admiration we had for all who work for Boundless. We discovered what we already knew, which was Boundless was made up of hard working dedicated employees who believed in our mission and recognized the important role they played in the lives of those we served and supported. Our final conclusion was that we were not going to manage our way out of this state wide crisis. All of our efforts made our outcomes better than most agencies providing similar services, however, we needed to take another, more risky step. Boundless opted to lean into direct support professionals, realizing that if we operated efficiently, trained our staff for high quality service, engaged them with a great culture and paid the highest rates in the field that we will succeed in resolving the workforce crisis.
You can read more about our efforts in the article written by Rita Price of the Columbus Dispatch.