Incredible People Making Personal Sacrifices for Others
All textual stories below were collected from Utah DSPs in 2021. This has been their experience with the crisis of care. With wages increasing across the nation frontline workers supporting people with intellectual disabilities are in crisis. Lower skilled, less stressful work opportunities are now readily available at a substantially higher wage and with better benefits. Many Direct Support Professionals, being rational people, are acting in their and their families best interest and leaving for higher paying jobs and less stressful work. This migration to higher paying jobs coupled with the national staffing crisis is placing those stalwart employee under incredible stress.
What is a Staffing Crisis
The shortage in staffing has affected me in all aspects. I am working over 18-24 hour shifts with little to no sleep day after day. I am constantly thinking of how to make a schedule and how I am going to make it work because it is not possible for me to continue to do this alone. Currently as I am typing this, I am working a grave and will have to return in a couple of hours leaving me with only 3 hours of rest until I must work a 10-hour shift. I have had no staff able to help me or all the staff I have left are exceeding their own limits. Due to that, I am working to the point of my body shutting down and making me physically ill on shift. I have had to refuse to drive my individuals to preferred activities due to not getting sleep, I do not feel comfortable to transport individuals in my vehicle because my senses are not at its best to safely provide transportation. My individuals have not been able to attend home visits with their family because there are no staff able to transport. With the lack of staffing, I have struggled emotionally in feeling exhausted, burnt out, irritable, and overwhelmed to where I need to give myself a couple of minutes to regroup before breaking down and crying with how exhausted I am and how much my body is hurting. I am not able to give my best, because I have not felt my best. I have honestly felt like I am just a body breathing at the house. My relationships have been affected by this staffing crisis, I am not able to be at home with my family, I am not able to take care of my daily house needs since once I am home, I must try and sleep for whatever minutes I can. I have not had any time for myself, I don’t remember the last time I was able to have a good night’s rest or day off just to regroup myself. I have spent more time at the residential home then in my own personal house. I have worked more hours than I have ever had to work my entire time at our company and as a residential manager. I am not my best self at this time, I cannot provide the best care at this time because I am not even able to take care of myself and needs right now because I am constantly having to work. That is how the staffing crisis is currently affecting me and things need to change. We need staff.
I love to help the individuals; I love to be the person to assist and help them achieve their goals and show them the potential that they have. I enjoy being the support and the person they are able to go to when they feel like they can’t keep going. When these individuals get to go on activities and experience new things, the joy and happiness that they display on their face is the reason why I am still here. These individuals need someone to be there for them, to fight for them, and to not give up on them. I have worked insane hours because I lead by example. Everyday I tell my individuals to never give up and to always try, which has kept me from giving up. These individuals need us, my individuals need me, and they trust me. That is why I am still here.
With many people who I have talked to and tried to recruit, everyone has said that if our company increased wage way more they would apply and be willing to choose our company over another Job. Our company is an amazing job with a great purpose, but people need to pay bills, and should get paid enough for the dedication and work that we put in everyday. . .
~Nicole, Direct Support Professional/Manager in Utah