Staff Shortages are Scary. Part One.

It is Friday night, and I have a chance to do a bit of Salsa dancing with friends at a new brewery in town. It has been weeks since I have been with my friends, and I relish the time to relax and renew my wearied soul.

The last two years have been challenging for both Mikelle, our team, and me as we struggle to stabilize Mikelle’s support. Since COVID made its dangerous arrival destabilizing the world, its effect is felt in our homes and in the homes of many of our friends and families experiencing disability.  For us, we have said too many hello’s and goodbyes to the promise of women who interviewed and accepted a position as a direct support professional for Mikelle. It appears unstable times produce an unstable workforce.

The security we all felt has disappeared.  As I head out the door for my night out, Mikelle looks at me nervously. She puts her sippy cup of coffee on her wheelchair tray, looks up, and taps her wrist with her index finger. It is her way of asking when I will be home.

I tell her, “I will be here to get you up in the morning. Don’t worry; I am coming home.” Mikelle is becoming more dependent on me, not less.  I am the most stable person in the Shining Beautiful universe.

Mikelle’s new reality is living in perpetual worry. Her brow is frequently furrowed as she waits for the next change. And, she doesn’t have to wait long. Even our good team members leave or come back or do both within a few months.  Long-term employment can be measured in months not years it seems these days.

Our old methods of finding capable women aren’t working. No one answers Craiglist ads anymore. Those ads used to perform exceedingly well, but now we are competing with hundreds of other postings and within hours our posting is drops like a rock off the first page disappearing deeper into digital weeds. We tried spending a great deal of money only to get underqualified, unavailable applicants who didn’t respond to requests for interviews. produced one employee who lasted less than two months.

Okay, we thought, what if we raise the wages? So, we did. From $16 to $20+ an hour with the promise of more with”in three months. We do a phone interview, send them to our website and then wait for them to say “This job isn’t for me.”

Our team, Mikelle, and I are frustrated.  We decided to take a break and hope to resume our search at a better time. But, unfortunately, when that time arrives remains a question that doesn’t have an answer, yet.