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DODD Encourages Individualized Emergency Strategies to be Used


Individualized Emergency Strategies 

The Ohio Department  of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) acknowledges the hard work and dedication providers have shown in the face of an unprecedented workforce crisis. DODD also recognizes the hardship and stress that reduced staffing continues to have on people receiving supports and their families. DODD is working collaboratively with state and local system partners to address the workforce crisis to the extent the system has control. 

This national workforce crisis impacts nearly all employment sectors which causes uncertainty for many people, but it is especially difficult for the people who depend on a workforce for their everyday needs. During this time, DODD encourages county boards of developmental disabilities to have important conversations with people receiving services and their teams to develop individualized emergency strategies that will ensure health and safety in the event of a staffing emergency. Having preemptive discussions now will bring some level of ease knowing there are strategies in place and provides instant action steps when emergency staffing situations arise. 

Providers should communicate openly with each person’s service and support administrator (SSA) and county board if they are facing a staffing shortage that may affect a person’s supports. Not being able to provide the previously agreed upon level of support as the result of a national workforce shortage is not a shortcoming of a provider. Providers communicating staffing shortages will not be viewed as a compliance issue by DODD or county boards as timely communication with the county board is critical to ensure individual health and safety risks are addressed.    

Many county boards, providers, people receiving services, and their families are having these discussions already and the effectiveness of their planning has contributed to the call for this statewide effort. All county boards should begin by prioritizing these conversations with people known to be especially in need due to known staffing shortages in their area or because a person relies on direct support professionals for critical daily living needs. Attached is a sample template, developed by members of the Ohio Provider Resources Association, with input and partnership with the Ohio Association of County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, that may be used to authorize services during this difficult time. DODD strongly encourages county boards and their teams to use this or a similar form to develop and revise individualized emergency strategies as needed. 

Local teams should consider the use of technology, the capacity of the provider to redeploy DSPs, appropriate staffing ratios to maintain health and safety, and other provider, community, and natural supports available for short-term solutions due to emergencies. 

Amidst these workforce challenges, it is imperative that Ohio’s support system, embrace the possibilities that technology offers Ohioans with developmental disabilities, their families, and providers of service. Conversations about technology must be a central part of every person’s emergency staffing strategy. There are technology solutions available throughout the state and the DODD Community Life Engagement team can make the connections needed to technology vendors and providers who are ready to assist. People receiving services and their families who are ready and willing to explore technology solutions for their staffing needs should contact their SSA immediately to start the conversation. Additional information and resources will be forthcoming in the next few weeks that will further support the use of technology in the DD system.