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Increasing Caregiver Shortages Lead to Dwindling Health Outcomes for Disabled

Clearwater, January 16, 2024

By Daniel Mutter

A major healthcare crisis is on the rise nationwide as direct support professionals (DSPs) continue to quit in droves, leading to increasingly poor health outcomes for Americans living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). While low wages are slow to catch up with the times, education and support are helping bridge the gap, decreasing turnover and improving the level of care for disabled Americans.

The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) recently published the results of its 2023 State of America’s Direct Support Workforce Crisis survey, which polled 581 healthcare organizations operating across 45 states nationwide. The study measured the impact of the DSP workforce crisis on community-based providers supporting people with IDD.

According to this survey, 95% reported experiencing “moderate” or “severe” staffing shortages in the past year. As a result, more than three-quarters (77%) of those surveyed reported turning away new referrals in 2023 due to ongoing staffing shortages and 44% indicated they had to completely discontinue programs or service offerings due to insufficient staffing.(1)

As a result of this study, one of the major recommendations made by ANCOR is for care organizations to invest in career pipeline programs to enhance training and professionalization in the field.

“Providing better training for caregivers allows them to feel more capable and confident in their work, which means they are far more likely to stay with their job, leading to less staff turnover,” says Dr. Craig Escudé, President of IntellectAbility. “When you can train direct support professionals to know what to expect and what to look for, you can have a positive impact on people’s lives while improving health outcomes for those they support.”

IntellectAbility provides tools and training to agencies, governmental entities, and supporters of people with IDD to foster early recognition and mitigation of health risks, including the “Fatal Five,” or the top conditions linked to preventable deaths of people with IDD, including aspiration, constipation/bowel obstruction, seizures, dehydration, and sepsis. A recent partnership with Elevance Health will mean thousands more will benefit from these life-saving educational programs.

In addition to providing enhanced training courses, IntellectAbility has also developed the Health Risk Screening Tool (HRST) to assist DSPs in recognizing the early warning signs of health destabilization for people with IDD. Currently, 26 states and over 2,000 private provider agencies utilize the HRST.

“One of the keys to recognizing health destabilization is getting to know patients long-term. However, high staff turnover can make it increasingly difficult for caregivers to notice these warning signs. The HRST helps newly hired supporters pick up where their predecessors left off, empowering them to easily identify, track, and create actionable healthcare plans to improve health outcomes and save lives.”


Author Daniel Mutter can be reached at Daniel (at)

Published in the EIN Presswire

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