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MDHHS Releases Behavioral Health Workforce Solutions Report

I have been thinking a lot lately about a new report that the State of Michigan has released “Developing Sustainable Workforce Solutions in Behavioral Health and Direct Care”. The report is attached to this blog post and I encourage everyone to read the report. While I do not necessarily agree with all of the recommendations, in general I think the report is well done and makes clear the challenges long-term care providers like Progressive are facing today.

A couple of noteworthy excerpts from the 2023 Report:

“Most employers and DCWs acknowledged that for similar or higher pay, it is relatively easy to find a job that is less stressful or physically demanding than direct care work. Participants in employer discussion groups mentioned, and also sensed, a near-desperation to fill direct care roles”.

“They shared a frustration that direct care is undervalued, and the people doing this work are underappreciated”.

“The stigma that direct care work is equivalent to working at fast food establishments, combined with low wages, hinders the ability to hire and retain new talent”.

“Participants shared that DCWs in Michigan are living at or below the federal poverty line, struggling with some of the same social determinants of health as the people they serve. Employee costs of living are high, with inflation, groceries, travel (vehicle maintenance, gas mileage), and daycare costs among the contributing factors. Wages simply are not providing meaningful compensation for the work done and the cost of doing the work”.

“This issue is exacerbated in rural areas because homes are more spread out, with fewer workers available between locations. Moreover, vehicle wear and time spent traveling can result in workers effectively losing money to do their jobs”. (Issue applies to Progressive workforce as homes are widely geographically distributed in Oakland County)

“The lack of affordable, available childcare is a significant barrier to workers entering and remaining in the field, especially for women, and more so for women of color, who comprise a disproportionate share of Michigan DCWs”.

“In Michigan, the average turnover for direct behavioral healthcare workers is 40 percent”.

“Members of nearly every focus group shared that DCWs (other than behavioral health clinicians) are underappreciated. Though some people may believe DCWs are responsible only for their clients’ hygiene and nutrition, seasoned DCWs and those who are suited to this work are confident they are “helping people on personal level.” DCWs who support older adults or people with disabilities recognized they provide structure to their clients’ days and are often their only personal connection to the outside world. Though some DCWs recognize the importance of their role, it can be demeaning to hear what other people think about their work”. This last excerpt in particular caught my attention as Progressive Lifestyles, Inc. has always, and continues to strive to put the relationship between those supported and the DCW at the very center of the philosophy of care. This focus on relationships is what sets Progressive apart from most other long-term care providers in the State of Michigan. Of course, in order to build and sustain relationships, Progressive must be able to retain a hardworking, dedicated work force that is the reason for the many outstanding achievements in the provision of care over the past (40) years.

Please take a few minutes and read the full report, downloadable here.

Download PDF • 3.19MB

Please consider attending or donating to the upcoming Top Golf Fundraiser Event on September 7, 2023, 6:00 – 9:00 PM @ Topgolf of Auburn Hills, 500 Great Lakes Crossing Dr, Auburn Hills, MI 48326, USA



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