Continuing to explore ways to improve services for Ohio citizens with developmental disabilities and determine benchmarks to guide the future, the DODD Strategic Planning Leadership Group (SPLG) met last week to discuss workforce development for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs). Service provider organizations representing DSPs, including the Values and Faith Alliance, Ohio Waiver Network, Ohio Healthcare Association, and the Ohio Provider Resource Association (OPRA), offered input regarding the affect that improvements to this service profession can have on individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. “We need to shift from a culture of compliance to rules and regulations to a culture of quality,” said Mark Davis, OPRA executive director.
Brainstorming ways to grow and maintain a strong DSP workforce, SPLG members’ conversations and questions helped to develop a list of issues and ideas for strengthening the system infrastructure. Many voices were heard, including self advocates Diana Mairose and Tami Grogg, each of whom touched on the need for including people with disabilities in training efforts for DSPs, and in other aspects of building the future statewide service system.
Developing drafts of simply-worded benchmarks for consideration, and capturing the many ideas and challenges brought forward for continued discussion, SPLG members defined key areas such as ways to empower DSPs in facility- and home-based work settings; using consistent and clear language in training and in printed materials; and, making sure that person-centered planning is practiced.
Also on the agenda was a discussion of accessible and affordable housing. DODD Director John Martin asked, “As we think about reducing our reliance on Intermediate Care Facilities and Developmental Centers, combined with the future needs of people on waiting lists, how does this impact the need for housing?” Information was presented to encourage development of ten-year benchmarks, including identification of housing stock that is — or could be — affordable and physically accessible, as well as a proposed option to increase rent subsidies for people with disabilities.
The SPLG will meet again on September 9, at the Columbus Developmental Center.
Supporting the many home-based care options discussed at this and other SPLG meetings, a recent American Association of Retired People (AARP) survey reported that 78 percent of survey responders indicated that services that keep older adults (with or without disabilities) living independently in their homes, instead of in assisted living and nursing homes, should be a state priority. The survey also pointed out that approximately 75 percent of federal funds given to Ohio for the care of older adults are directed to nursing homes, and the remaining funds go toward keeping people in their homes.