Together, the people we support and our employees are the life blood of Laura Baker Services Association. With no one to support, we don’t exist. Without adequate numbers of employees, our ability to support people is limited. As we look ahead to Employee Appreciation Week, April 23–30, let’s celebrate the amazing work of our employees and show our appreciation by requesting that the Minnesota Legislature increase reimbursement rates, thus providing the necessary funds to increase direct support employees’ wages.
Our employees hold people’s lives in their hands every single day
With, or on behalf of the people we support, our employees assess and recommend action based on a client’s health status.
In a recent situation, a client who is relatively independent was experiencing severe nausea and asked to be taken to the ER. The staff member arranged for that support, and stayed with the person throughout the visit. When the ER staff thought the situation was resolved and arranged for the client to go home, the staff member stayed engaged with the client. The client was still experiencing symptoms, and was afraid to express herself, so the staff member assisted her. The client ended up being admitted to the hospital for further treatment and observation.
Our staff members listen beyond the words and act beyond the obvious
Every day staff members administer medications and observe for conditions related to the medications that clients take. Conditions range from a skin rash to influenza and seizures to mental health conditions. Sometimes those conditions are terminal and staff provide end-of-life support.
Our employees work with clients to determine and support their dreams and goals
A client graduated from high school three years ago and has not had a job. Her significant anxiety issues create a barrier for her being employed in the community, or even attending an outside day-training and habilitation facility. Recently, she was referred to an outside organization for those services. Her case manager attributes her ability to make that transition to the exceptional support she is receiving from her household team. She is learning new skills and is able to better manage her anxiety. Because of her progress, she is able to explore new possibilities.
Our employees create and implement solutions designed to help clients in many different ways
Clients who need dietary management support have individualized dietary plans to help them with weight management, food allergies or food restrictions. These plans can be relatively simple to very complex, from single-serving diets on a regular menu to highly individualized diet plans with specialized menus requiring separate food preparation and careful screening for problematic ingredients.
What’s required of our employees
Every day, staff members are working with clients and their teams to address challenges in transportation, household management, budget and finance, personal hygiene and behaviors that make community living challenging.
Our employees require exceptional skills to assist in recognizing real risks for people and creating safety mechanisms to keep clients out of harm, while all the while ensuring that risk management does not unnecessarily limit a client’s opportunities to accomplish dreams and goals. It’s a delicate balance which requires extraordinary judgment and constant evaluation and reevaluation. The consequences for making a mistake can be grave. Beyond the immediate consequences to a client’s health and safety, staff members risk their judgment being called into question by the organization, by the individual’s team of support, by our licensing bodies and by legal authorities. These risks can lead to loss of income and employment and, potentially, legal action.
For all of that, we are willing, as a society, to pay these exceptional individuals on average $12.41 per hour, including benefits. Because when we add up the cost for people who need 24-hour services and support, we count it too dear to our own pockets. We don’t think it’s worth more than the price we are paying now. In fact, we’d like it to be less than we’re paying now.
The Minnesota Legislature is again denying any increase in our rates for direct support staff members for people with disabilities. Please take action to support these people of great heart and judgment, who do so much for so many for so little. Go here. Tell your neighbors and friends. Share your solutions with us. We must do better for those who give unconditionally of their time, talents and treasures.