As a field, we usually ask our workers to put the individuals accessing services first. This is critical to ensure those individuals with disabilities are living their lives successfully in the community. Unfortunately, this has meant that workers are often reluctant to discuss their own needs. Specifically, they have not been very vocal about how the wages in the field directly impact their lives and the lives of the people around them. We are submitting this report to make public how workers are impacted by low wages. We want them to know it is okay to talk about their needs, as well as those of the people they support.
The themes and sample quotes that disability workers shared in our PDD Review survey are combined with relevant facts and figures from other sources and organized according to the five themes of the PDD Review consultation. This document was submitted along with The High Cost of Low Wages and the PDD Review Survey: Adding the Disability Worker's Voice to the PDD Review panel. It also formed one of the background documents that ADWA board and staff used when they met with the panel at the community conversations.
The PDD Review conversations and online survey focus on five areas identified as important in earlier discussions: Eligibility for services, Accessing help when needed, Creating an effective service delivery system, A skilled and knowledgeable workforce, and Working together (conneciton and communication). ADWA's key messages are based on the results of a disability worker survey conducted by ADWA in the summer of 2018. Our key messages can be a useful guide to help you share your story as someone working in Alberta's disability services.
ADWA surveyed the disability sector in preparation for the PDD Review. We asked about the best way of engaging the disability workforce in the review process. We asked about the impact of current wage levels on their ability to support individuals effectively. We also asked about elements of the current system that helped them make a positive difference in people's lives, what would make their job work well for them and the people they support, the challenges that made their work difficult and what could be done to protect and improve supports and ensure stability ot the PDD system.
You are going to visit your MLA to discuss issues affecting your work or to educate him or her about disability services. In addition to telling powerful stories, you may find it useful to bring this fact-filled handout to answer questions about history and our work "according to the numbers."
This study attempts to answer the question of what difference the funding increase for compensation has made in addressing retention among Alberta disability workers. While other studies may focus on reported distribution by service providers and actual turnover rates, this study focuses on disability workers’ expectations and perceptions of their compensation experience.