Staff Development in IDD: How ANCOR’s Certificates of Achievement Can Improve DSP Retention

Direct Support Professional (DSP) turnover consumes a tremendous about of time and resources, and impacts all aspects of an IDD organization. The National Core Indicators 2018 Staff Stability Survey found that the national turnover rate for DSPs ranged from 30.7% to 62.7%, with an average turnover rate of 51.3%. This reflected an increase of 5% from 2017 data.

From low wages to difficult work, the reasons DSPs leave their jobs, or the field all together, varies greatly. It is no surprise, however, that a lack of opportunity for professional growth is at the top of the list. That’s why Relias and ANCOR have joined forces to empower DSPs with the tools they need to help them develop their skill set, using the ANCOR Certificates of Achievement.

What are the ANCOR Certificates of Achievement?

The ANCOR Certificates of Achievement are a series of ten professional development plans created for Direct Support Professionals working in an Intellectual/Developmental Disability (IDD) setting. Each plan was carefully designed through a collaboration with ANCOR, Relias, and provider stakeholders. The development plans contain the training necessary for DSPs to excel in their chosen specialty role.

The Certificates of Achievement development plans include specialized course tracks for the following staff development tracks:

  • Emerging Leader
  • Peer Mentor
  • Health and Safety Specialist
  • Aging Specialist
  • Employee Wellness Specialist
  • Customized Self-Employment Specialist
  • Community Employment Specialist
  • Community Inclusion Specialist
  • Human Resources Professional
  • Behavior Support Specialist

The Benefits of ANCOR Certificates of Achievement

The Certificates of Achievement offer several benefits to IDD organizations and their staff:

1. Increase DSP Engagement

Employee engagement is defined as an emotional commitment to the organization and its mission. In a recent study conducted by Gallop, only 34% of workers in the U.S. are “engaged,” 13% are ”actively disengaged,” and the remaining 53% are considered “not engaged.” Engaged employees are more likely to put forth discretionary effort leading to better quality of services and organizational health.

2. Foster a Culture of Respect

DSPs are valuable sources of information in an IDD organization. Working on the frontlines of service provision generates unique insights into the needs of persons supported and organizational policies and practices. Organizations can foster a culture of respect for employees by providing opportunities for training and development, involving DSPs in decision making processes, and obtaining input regarding organizational policies.

3. Reduce the Cost of Turnover

DSP turnover is expensive. The cost of replacing a DSP ranges from $4200 to $5200, including both direct and indirect costs such as separation, new employee training, lost productivity, and lost revenue. Retention of high-performing staff should be the foundation to your turnover reduction strategy.

4. Provide Appreciation

That which gets rewarded gets repeated. In a recent survey conducted by Relias, 45% of DSPs said showing appreciation for their work and experience is the number one strategy organizations could implement to retain them. Offering opportunities for development helps reinforce the fact that you value your employees and are invested in their success.

5. Foundation for a DSP Career Ladder

As ANCOR highlighted in Addressing the Disability Services Workforce Crisis of the 21st Century, one of the reasons why DSPs leave the profession is due to a lack of opportunity for career advancement. Implementing a DSP career ladder is a crucial aspect of your turnover reduction strategy, although only 34.9% of IDD organizations have one in place.

6. Improve Quality Services

It’s no surprise that quality training improves quality services. DSPs want the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary to do their jobs. 50% of DSPs indicated they wanted additional training related to providing supports and services to individuals with IDD.

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Arlene Bridges

Senior Product Manager for IDD & ABA, Relias

Arlene has nearly twenty years of experience in many areas of IDD service provision, including clinical coordination, oversight and administration. She has experience in managing contracts and billable services with MCOs and other payers, overseeing quality improvement processes, and working with CQL accreditation requirements. Arlene also served on the board of the NC Provider Association.

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