IDD Services Company Caregiver Reskills, Mentors Direct Support Professionals to Fill IT Roles
IT Pilot Program Invests in Employees to Propel Professional Growth
(Fort Worth, TX)… At Caregiver, Inc., the company’s 3500 employees are its most vital and treasured assets – from direct support professionals (DSPs) to headquarters support center team members and executives. All fulfill vital roles in the care and nurturing of the thousands of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD) they support, especially front-line caregivers, Direct Support Professionals (DSPs).
In the IDD field, DSPs are uniquely dedicated to their work and to those for whom they provide care. Yet for DSPs looking to advance their own careers, options are sometimes limited unless an employee takes a break to pursue more education, certification training, or other career development.
To open up opportunities for existing employees to remain in the field, stay employed and grow their own careers, Sameer Bhargava, Caregiver’s Chief Technology Officer and Chief Information Officer, is piloting a new program that offers Caregiver front line employees who have relevant aptitudes a way to develop new skills, map a fresh career pathway and advance earning potential, all while remaining employed at the company.
The approach has merit, according to a recent Harvard Business Review article by Peter Capelli that underscores the value of hiring from within. When offering retraining and supporting career development for current employees who know the business, understand the culture and mission, and have proven themselves in a different role over a number of years, an organization’s potential for decreasing turnover is clear. Capelli writes that this is especially important because frequently vacancies are caused by the perception of lack of career advancement.
At Caregiver, Bhargava is creating career advancement opportunities for Caregiver team members while also meeting the increasing technology needs of the rapidly growing company. In the past year, Caregiver’s rapid growth – acquiring half a dozen companies in four states – necessitated the integration and modernization of technology and networks across every aspect of operations and IDD direct care and support services.
“As our company expands and technology evolves, we need bright, driven colleagues who are dedicated to our individuals and want to rise through the ranks,” said Bhargava. “Not all technology requires coding or a systems engineering background. It makes sense to hire a passionate current employee who understands our business and can learn their role in the tech department within just a few months. That’s far superior to hiring an outside candidate from the IT field who lacks an appreciation for what we do, the individuals we serve and the nuances of our business.”
According to Bhargava, several new tech department employees have moved seamlessly into business analyst roles that help the company’s operations and technology interface such as managing vendors and project timelines or helping colleagues troubleshoot day-to-day technology issues as they arise.
“Technology makes our business more efficient and frees up front line employees’ time. More time means we are able to help more individuals,” said Bhargava. Caregiver in Texas supports over 2300 individuals. Still, there are 100,000 individuals with IDD on the State of Texas waitlist, hoping to receive care, he emphasizes.
“Since funding in Medicaid reimbursed services will never fully meet the demand for services, we need to find ways to provide for more people with the same amount of money,” he explains. “It is up to us to cultivate a well-run business in which staff use their time actually helping those we serve rather than being mired in antiquated paperwork.”
Caregiver employees who have moved into the IT program report that learning new skills and being mentored are welcome professional challenges because they are able to stay so closely connected to the individuals they serve. In fact, the combination has been life-changing, according to Sarah Williams.
“I never thought IT would be a career path for me,” admitted Williams, an IT analyst since February 2019 who had previously been a QA assistant, then an office manager, before joining the IT team. “Before, I was always the one calling IT for help!”
Now she is providing tech assistance to her colleagues.
“It’s clear that Caregiver is interested in my personal and professional growth,” Williams said. “I’m proud of the ways I’m able to help our team members and the individuals we support. We actually make their lives easier and better through technology.”
Williams is hopeful that even those who might think work in IT is out of reach will recognize the options.
“If you have passion for the IDD field and you feel ready for a new role, IT is a great place to contribute from a different vantage point,” she said. “Plus, the potential for growth is fantastic.”
According to Bhargava, front-line staff increasingly recognize the value of technology and the many opportunities Caregiver offers. Two employees who have been in the industry or with the one of the company’s affiliates for a long time are now-seasoned IT analysts Beverly Person and Nicole Modisette.
“I know that through technology, we’re improving the company’s processes,” said Person. “And that has a direct impact on the quality of life of our individuals.”
Among some of the projects the technology team has led are migrating to electronic health records, streamlining and automating the company’s trust department procedures, and improving prescription vendor processes. Each improvement affords the direct support professionals and other frontline caregivers the opportunity to spend more quality time with individuals in their care. As well, individuals receive what they need – such as prescriptions or funds for their daily needs – much more quickly and efficiently.
“We quickly learned that IT is here to help the company, our colleagues, and our individuals,” said Modisette. “I’ve had the opportunity to work on massive projects like electronic health record rollouts, and I feel an incredible sense of accomplishment for playing a role in those projects.”
Modisette hopes her colleagues consider trying on a new, advanced role in the IT department, too.
“If you sit on the sidelines,” she said, “you could miss an opportunity to move forward.”
Career expansion, staff retention, and increased efficiencies that allow more service for individuals are a powerful set of advantages. For anyone interested in pursuing Caregiver’s employment opportunities, please visit www.cg-idd.com/careers.
ABOUT CAREGIVER, INC.
Caregiver, Inc., is a privately held company with over 3500 employees within the headquarters support group in Fort Worth and branded affiliate organizations in four states. The affiliates provide intermediate, home and community care services to nearly 2800 individuals who qualify as developmentally or intellectually disabled or are impacted by related conditions. Caregiver, Inc. was formed in 2015 and now includes these affiliates: Unified Care Group, Southern Concepts, River Gardens, Daybreak Community Services Inc., St. Giles Living Centers, DSA of Indiana, CG-HHC, All Care Services, T/R Residential and S&K in Ohio, and Omni Support Services of Tennessee. All have similar service offerings and strong reputations in their local communities. Caregiver services include supported home living, family protective services, case coordination, nursing services, respite services, day habilitation, psychology services, dental treatment, specialized therapies, adaptive aids, minor home modifications, and supported employment. Caregiver president and CEO is Mark Lashley. Company headquarters are at 4800 Overton Plaza, Suite 440, Fort Worth, Texas 76109. Phone is (800) 299-5161. They are on the web at cg-idd.com.
“As our company expands and technology evolves, we need bright, driven colleagues who are dedicated to our individuals and want to rise through the ranks. Not all technology requires coding or a systems engineering background. It makes sense to hire a passionate current employee who understands our business and can learn their role in the tech department within just a few months. That’s far superior to hiring an outside candidate from the IT field who lacks an appreciation for what we do, the individuals we serve and the nuances of our business.”
Sameer Bhargava, Caregiver, Inc.’s CTO and CIO