Ohio Valley Residential Services (OVRS) is a private, nonprofit organization that provides residential services to teens and adults with developmental disabilities in the Cincinnati area. OVRS has 23 group homes and offers supported living services. In all, the agency serves about 140 individuals and has about 170 employees.
The State of Ohio offers enhanced reimbursement rates for services provided by direct support professionals (DSPs) with extra training. OVSR was eager to provide staff with opportunities to get the training necessary for the enhanced rate.
The state also offers free online training to IDD service organizations. But Jamie Steele, OVRS’s executive director, says he and his staff had problems with the system. “We just weren’t satisfied with it.”
The Impact of Relias
Jamie identified three big advantages for OVRS of moving their training to Relias.
1) The ease of tracking employees’ trainings
“The bigger you are, the harder tracking trainings is unless you have some type of system,” Jamie said. “We found the way Relias is set up, it was just easier to track.” He said being able to see, at any given time, if an employee is compliant with required training and what additional training they have done was a big benefit for OVRS.
2) The breadth of courses available with Relias
Relias enables OVRS to easily provide DSPs with the courses they need to qualify for enhanced reimbursement rates from the state. “Really, the big thing is in Ohio, in our IDD system, we have the ability to access more funding for our staff,” Jamie explained. “Relias is an effective way to do that, where the employer is helping the employee achieve something they desire but have a hard time doing on their own.”
Jamie says the training available to Qualified Intellectual Disability Professionals (QIDPs) and other supervisors is another important benefit. “Relias offers that management training package, and that’s a great program for front-line managers, which is the hardest training to find in our field.”
OVRS brings groups of managers together to watch a course and discuss it afterwards. The organization also assigns to managers extra trainings on topics important to effective supervision and service provision.
In addition, OVRS staff take Relias trainings beyond what is required to learn how to do their jobs better. “All of our employees, over the years, have asked for more specific training—how to do their jobs better, how to work with certain individuals with specific disabilities, just gaining more knowledge about disabilities,” Jamie said. “Relias allows us to give that to them.”
3) The flexibility of providing training through Relias
As all IDD service providers know, making sure everyone gets the training they need to be and stay in compliance can be a challenge. “People often have two jobs,” Jamie said. “You can’t offer a class and get everybody.”
“With Relias, it’s more convenient for employees. They can do it at different times,” Jamie said. “And they still have to pass the test at the end, so it’s competency-based. There’s a real convenience in that way for the everyday employee who is holding down a couple jobs and family and so forth.”
In addition to being OVRS’s executive director, Jamie serves as the chairperson of the board of directors of the Ohio Provider Resource Association, a statewide association of service providers with 170 member organizations.
Jamie recommends Relias to his colleagues in OPRA. “Our system is getting more complicated, and with the advent of our DSP crisis, all of us are looking for solutions to recruit and retain staff,” Jamie tells other organization leaders. “What sets you apart? I find that training is one thing that creates a culture of possibilities, and Relias is a perfect platform to assist you with your staffing issues. Invest in staff and they will invest in your company and the individuals you support.”