Dear Frontline Workers, Thank You For All That You Do
The week of September 13-19 is Direct Support Professional (DSP) and Home Care Provider (HCP) Recognition Week. These frontline workers dedicate countless hours, and use a multitude of skills to help ensure a happy and healthy life for those with disabilities. Our vision and goals are directly aligned with so many of these workers, and because of that, we thank them this week and all 365 days of the year.
Home Care Provider Ginny Schimanski has been helping those with disabilities in various ways since her first year of college. For the past five years, Ginny has been living 24/7 with a woman and her mother. Known as “The Golden Girl Family” by the woman Ginny takes care of, Ginny feels as though they have in a way, become a family. Ginny noted in order to work in this field, “you need to love what you are doing” and there is no doubt that she loves what she is doing – helping people to live their best life. She notes that being a Home Care Provider includes many supportive tasks, some of which can be personal, in nature. She went on to note that even though the job has challenges she loves her career. Ginny notes something she has noticed throughout her years in the field is the tendency to underestimate those with a disability. Some don’t realize how smart and capable those with a disability are and how that they have the same emotions as someone without a disability. We are grateful to professionals like Ginny for all that you do to support those with disabilities.
Home Care Provider Jennifer Foxwell has plenty of experience caring for those of different ages and with a wide variety of abilities. In the past, she has cared for senior citizens and currently is an HCP for a man in his 30’s named Joe (featured in above photo). Joe has Down Syndrome and lives with Jennifer, her husband and her two kids on a farm. Together they spend time working on projects and enjoying the animals. Jennifer notes that a major aspect of being a HCP is getting to truly know the person you are caring for. “You can read all the reports under the sun but you need to actually spend time with them and get to know them…by spending time together, you learn what helps and what triggers”, Jennifer said. She added being an HCP isn’t always roses but when you work at it, it is great to see someone flourishing in the right environment. Jennifer noted the family’s bond with Community Crossroads is crucial in their life because “I know there is always someone on the other end of the phone to answer a question.” While Joe has some behavioral issues, working on projects on the farm participating in activities he enjoys such as puzzles and painting and having a supportive team at Community Crossroads has made Joe a happier person. We thank Jennifer and her family for helping to change someone’s life for the better!
These careers are critical to the lives of the individuals and families they support and there is currently a shortage of DSP’s and HCP’s in not only New Hampshire, but the entire nation. If we don’t look for ways to attract high-quality professionals we run the risk of a lower quality of care for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens. According to ewebschedule.com, reasons for this shortage include low wages, a stressful job environment, long hours, and high level of training.
The reason pay is low, according to the Concord Monitor, has to do with “low Medicaid reimbursement rates and subsequent low budgets” which leads to “direct support organizers not being able to pay a sufficient wage to attract qualified candidates.” Concord Monitor goes on to note that with over 2,000 vacant health care positions throughout our state in hospitals, nursing homes, community health facilities, mental health agencies and developmental disability service agencies, New Hampshire is facing a health care crisis.
One actionable way to help grow this field is by emailing and calling lawmakers to express the importance of these workers. Highlighting topics such as Medicaid rate increases, investing in our state’s loan repayment program, and training that is more readily available and manageable to complete, while still ensuring those looking into the field gain the necessary skills.
The wellbeing of those with developmental disabilities, acquired brain injuries and the elderly are of high priority for us in NH. Ensuring their safety and wellbeing can only be achieved when the people on the frontline are valued through higher pay and proper training.