Since Rise was forced to curtail most services at the end of March due to the COVID-19 virus crisis, several furloughed Rise team members have responded to the invitation to work during this time in group homes throughout the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota areas. With people at home now 24 hours a day, there has been an extreme shortage of group home support staff.
“We were happy to work with local residential providers and be able to offer them talented professional from Rise,” said Erin Braaten, Rise’s vice president of Human Resources.
Currently 18 Rise team members, including DSPs, an employment consultant, a supervisor, and a quality assurance specialist, are working in area group homes. They are still on Rise’s payroll, and Rise bills the residential providers for their hours.
When Erin checked in with people to see how they were doing, she received some positive and interesting responses:
Darla Olson, a DSP at Rise Spring Lake Park had this to say: “It’s been a learning experience for me; I now better understand how important group home staff are to the people who live in them and also how important Rise is to them. They cannot wait to get back to work! Every day is different and you learn a lot about yourself as person and how you react in different situations. Everyone is different and being with them in their home is so much more personal. So overall, I am glad I did this.”
Katie Zastrow, a program manager at Rise Anoka, said: “My experience so far has been positive! The group homes are very appreciative to have the extra help. The ones I have been working in also have good precautions in place regarding coronavirus, such as daily temperature checks for residents and staff along with more detailed cleaning schedules and checklists.”
Paul Widstrom, a Rise Quality Assurance specialist, had this to say: “The people at the group home have been welcoming, flexible, and grateful for any help. Everyone is a bit tired of being cooped up, but are also very understanding of the current situation and why we aren’t going out.”
Ashley Klingbeil (shown here), an employment consultant at Rise Stillwater, said: “It’s been a great option to avoid furlough or be without wages. It is also a good way to help our community partners. Coming from an employment team, it is very different work, but not in a negative way, just different. I can tell how much it helps the group home staff. The housing manager has been extremely accommodating to my family’s needs. I think an employee pool model or a share/swap is a thoughtful way to honor continuity of care and employee time-off/work-life balance.”
Rise team members receive their regular salary, plus $2.50 per hour extra which is paid out as a bonus each pay period, plus maintain full benefits. Group home staff are considered essential workers and are eligible for child care support from the state.
Group home providers are taking extra precautions to ensure that staff and person served remain healthy at this time including health monitoring, additional cleaning restricting visitors, etc.