Direct Support Professional. Lead Residential Counselor. Mentor. Safety Care Instructor. Health Care Liaison. Elii Garcia has worn many hats during the time she’s worked at LBSA. Now, she can add Household Director (HD) to the list.

In March, Elii was promoted to Household Director on LBSA’s Oak Street campus. Even though she has changed roles and responsibilities multiple times since joining LBSA in 2014, she wasn’t sure she would like having the added responsibilities of being an HD. Being responsible for a household and managing and scheduling staff can be a lot to take on. In Elii’s view, the transition so far has gone better than she initially expected. “It helped that I knew a lot of my staff outside of work when I started. We already had a bond. My daughter Esme works here too.” In addition to the added responsibilities of managing a team of seven staff members, Elii and all HDs at LBSA still do a significant amount of direct support themselves. “I think it helps my staff to see that I do what they do. I’m not just in the office doing paperwork.”

Elii says that the pandemic has been difficult for clients because of visitor restrictions and public places being closed. One of her first goals since becoming an HD has been to ensure clients are enjoying outside places and activities. She has been spending a lot of time planning activities and getting her staff to do the same. “With COVID, the clients have been in the house 24/7 and now we can start going places again.” Activities include anything from going to Lake Byllesby for lunch, to renting out a movie theater, to trips to A Great Day Farm. Even something as simple as going for walks to the park or downtown or going for a van ride makes a difference in helping clients feel connected to the community.

In addition to helping clients engage in activities and become more independent, Elii says her goal over the next two to three years is to be a better HD by focusing on helping new staff members develop. According to Elii, to be an effective direct support staff member, you must have good communication with other staff and be engaging with clients. When Elii sees new staff doing activities with clients and taking them out in the community, she knows the staff member is starting to get comfortable with their job.

Even though Elii’s role has changed and she now has more responsibilities, she says her favorite part of the job remains the interactions she has with clients. “Just being able to come to work and see client reactions is great. When I arrive and see David standing at the door smiling, it makes me feel awesome. That makes my day!”