Demand surges for home support workers in Dufferin

May 15, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

With an already high demand for home support workers around the region prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current situation has seen increase in the number of positions posted by job recruiters.

Home support worker positions were at the top of positions needed on job boards across Waterloo Wellington and Dufferin During April of 2020.

Employers were already struggling to fill vacant positions prior to the pandemic. There has been an increase in the number of needed personnel to fill these vacancies and the current situation is making it even more difficult for recruiters to find qualified people.

“These vacancies were difficult to fill prior to the COVID-19 crisis and now these recruiting issues are becoming more difficult,” said Charlene Hofbauer, executive director of the Workforce Planning Board “With the increased demand for people to work in health care, and health care organizations working on staff absence contingency plans due to illness, we can see that these types of positions will be in demand for the foreseeable future ”.

Home support workers, housekeepers and related occupations topped the list of online job postings in April of 2020 on the website with 270 positions posted. Support worker positions saw an increase of 34 per cent over the previous month.

At Community Living Dufferin, they don’t currently have a shortage of personnel, but they have adapted to doing things differently when working with clients.

Community Living Dufferin enables people with an intellectual disability to achieve their fullest potential through a variety of programs and services.

“The real difficulty is planning,” explained Tammy Takacs, human resources coordinator at Community Living Dufferin. “Our staff are being really creative right now with different programs. We have only had to shut down our day program.”

The facility has workers at group homes in the region and also provides in-home assistant to people living on their own.

“We operate 13 group homes in Orangeville,” Ms. Takacs explained. “Our direct support staff provide support for people with developmental disabilities. In each of those homes we support around five people who have a disability. We also provide support for people who have a disability but live independently in the community. We have direct support staff who go out and visit people and help with their banking and grocery shopping so they can live on their own.”

Although support workers are still going out to group homes and to meet with individuals, Ms. Takacs said they have taken necessary precautions like assigning one person to a particular group home rather that have different people visit different homes.

Although many support organizations are short-staffed, Community Living Dufferin is doing okay when it comes to current staff, however they need to plan for a sudden change in numbers.

“Developmental services and supports services, whether long term care or developmental services, there’s usually a shortage of support staff,” Ms. Takacs. “If we have staff that gets sick, that causes a strain. Where we didn’t have enough staff before, we would have even less staff. We have been very fortunate. We have not had any staff test positive. However our biggest challenge is planning for if that happened. The biggest risk is for support staff getting sick. The people that they support aren’t going out.”

Planning in case of a sudden shortage during the current situation is a priority for the staff at Community Living Dufferin.

While they have so far been able to maintain the required number of people needed to assist others in the community, many organizations continue to struggle to fill needed positions.

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