What’s the saying, if you can’t beat em, join em? As you have heard over the past few months—and going on three years really—the world is facing an extreme staffing shortage. Add to that the fact that Living Well is an organization taking care of vulnerable adults, and that our industry seems to be having an even harder time finding candidates, and it becomes abundantly clear that we need to find new ways to make things work. Unlike coffee shops we cannot close Tuesday nights or shorten hours to assuage the problem. Making our situation even more intense is that we need staff on site 24/7 at all 37 of the homes we operate. And complicating things even more is that with staffing so low we have had to utilize temp services at a level unseen in our history, and at rates that are not fiscally possible to continue.
How is an organization with the mission of providing exceptional services for disabled adults supposed to pay for high rates of care, when they are not reimbursed for the care at the same level? With 96% of funding coming from government sources, and donations historically reserved for the extras that make life fun, Living Well Disability Services needed to rethink staffing and be proactive. So, with all of that in mind, we are changing the way we do things when it comes to covering the staff needs of our individual houses.
Alison Nelson, Living Well’s new Director of HR, says, “We are rebuilding a staffing paradigm.” She says that instead of paying the staffing services, we are building our own internal pool of employees who will be scheduled at houses with the most need. The pay will be higher, at $20 per hour versus $16, as the schedules will be inconsistent and they will be called to work at any of the houses, not just one. Living Well is hoping to hire 8-12 people in this role as soon as possible as that number of staff will have a huge impact. She also says once these positions are filled the entire staff will benefit as the resources will be shared and there will be more time for managers to do the paperwork and direct support staff to do hands-on cares. “It will be a win for all of us once this program is fully staffed,” Nelson says.
“Quite simply we are excited to reinvest into the organization” says COO, Rod Carlson. He adds, “We have put so much money into temp staff over all of 2022 and would much rather invest in the organization and staff retention, versus relying on temp agencies and making them more money.” Carlson has been with Living Well for 35 years and has seen over three decades how Living Well intentionally builds a culture of care with employees invested in our mission. He also knows that the people we support are better served by staff who are immersed in our culture. So, with that in mind Living Well created a job to compete with the temp agencies, ease the stress on traditional staff, and reward those willing to work unique hours and be a part of the Living Well family. He says, “The work is essential, the people we serve deserve amazing care, and our entire staff deserves balance and time off.”
Leadership was very intentional in the creation of these jobs. While we want staff because we desperately need the assistance with care, more so we want the right staff. We want people ready to dive in and embrace a career made of caring. These new positions will pay more because it requires a high level of flexibility. At $20 per hour, we will be paying more than most temp agencies pay their staff, and in a way building our own internal staffing resource.
There is no way to sugar coat it, the past few years have been brutal. But these positions are an inspired shining light after a few tough years. These new roles are critical to our path forward and will help open the door to new staff to learn what we do. All of us at Living Well are confident that this new team will be huge asset to the company, and an integral part of rebuilding the way care is done. Better yet, the job has been posted just a week and we already have over 20 applicants!
With change comes so much opportunity for growth. And we are so excited to see this program take off!
Interested? Apply here.