When the states were asked by RSA to provide information in the Training and Technical Assistance Needs section of the 2015 7-OB Report, the need for qualified personnel and training existing personnel were the most pressing issues. In this topic we will be looking at 4 focus areas: 1) staff qualifications, 2) staff education, 3) staff recruitment and retention, and 4) the use of para professionals.
Consideration was given to rich vs. poor resource environments. In some states they are unable to attract certified vision rehabilitation personnel. Options include growing their own or finding ways to attract personnel from other areas. A report by AER in 2007 indicated that good sources of recruitment included teachers in the public schools, retired military, and recruiting college students into personnel preparation programs at their institutions. O*Net has just recently listed vision rehabilitation professions, because until they were looked at as a group no one profession had a large enough following to be considered. The role of OT’s and other personnel such as social workers or nurses should also be considered in terms of a viable continuum of services.
- Staff Qualifications
- What is the best way to ensure direct service staff (VRT, O&M, LVT, OT, etc.) are qualified to provide services? Examples: ACVREP certified, complete Master’s program from blindness specific program, OT Vision Certificate program from UAB, etc.
- What are acceptable qualifications if the best is not available?
- Staff Education and Continuing Education
- Prioritize topics that should be included in new employee orientation related specifically to providing quality services. Indicate which areas are essential for acceptable training. It will be assumed that completing training in all areas is best.
- Indicate how to ensure the appropriate depth, duration, and intensity of training.
- Orientation procedures for new staff in place with specific evaluations and levels of achievement (not just sitting in a session, but demonstrating mastery)
- Familiarization on documentation procedures
- Orientation to ordering and inventory procedures
- Shadowing with seasoned staff
- Staff recruitment and retention
- Identify strategies to recruit qualified direct service staff. Examples might include: grow your own, contact university programs, etc.
- What strategies can be used to retain qualified staff?
- List out the situations in which you believe agency employed para-professionals could help services reach more individuals or make the services more effective or efficient. Examples: ethnic groups who do not speak English, rural states with lots of travel time to reach, few qualified staff available, etc.
- For each of the situations you have listed, note what qualifications these individuals should have to be hired and what topic areas are there where they would need training.
- List out any organizations that currently make use of para-professionals to serve older individuals who are blind/vision impaired. Explain the situations in which these para-professionals are used and any pros or cons you see to these examples. If possible, provide contact information for a person who we could talk with to obtain more details about their program.
The work groups are finalizing their areas of consensus and when these are completed, we will send them for comment and post them here for your review. That should be in place by July 1, 2017.