Posted on May 27, 2022
After two long years of connecting virtually, ANCOR members were finally able to gather in-person for its 2022 Annual Conference held in Miami this past month.
ANCOR is a national trade association with member representation from all 50 states. The organization has its finger on the pulse of public policy, both locally and nationally, and is heavily involved with advocating for our industry in Washington.
This year’s conference theme was ELEVATE, “to recognize the many ways we’ve risen to unforeseen occasions in the past two years and the myriad ways we will take community–based IDD services to the next level.”
Penn-Mar was very much a part of that discussion. And it was a feather in our cap that Kevin Walker, our Director of Business Development, was chosen as one of some 25 featured presenters from a national field of experts.
During his timely and well-received workshop session, Kevin shared an overview of Penn-Mar’s model for “Transitioning from Facility to Community-based Opportunities.” He laid out a timeline of our journey, past experiences, success stories, best practices, and high-performance strategies that other organizations could emulate to achieve successful community-based outcomes.
I was gratified to learn that Conference attendees from coast-to-coast were familiar with Penn-Mar and many of our accomplishments over the past 5 years. We are truly a recognized leader in our industry.
Another bright spot for our organization during the Conference was the presentation of ANCOR’s National DSP of the Year Award to Penn-Mar team member, Maria Swift. In a field of 50 nominees from all 50 states, Maria was deemed most worthy for this premiere distinction.
I had the pleasure of spending time with her in Miami and it was very evident why she is so good at what she does. She has a compassionate heart, a natural curiosity about what can be accomplished to make things better, and a humility second-to-none.
Maria’s engaging personality, emotional intelligence and ability to listen bonds her tightly to the people she supports. They “see” in her heart a person genuinely interested in them, who wants them to have the life they want, not the life she wants for them.
The importance of DSPs to the success of our services cannot be overstated. But our industry — like so many others in the U.S. — is experiencing a workforce crisis that threatens to undermine the quality of supports for people with disabilities. Everyone is trying to figure out ways to solve this intractable problem.
At Penn-Mar, we are in the process of fine-tuning our strategic plan once again and there is no more important or pressing issue than the retention of team members.
It is fueling a desire to innovate. But you can only innovate so much with the type of supports that we provide. You cannot innovate your way out of staff and human capital, which is at the heart of our business.
The challenge, then, is how to improve lives by integrating technology into our services to augment, but never replace, the role of the DSP.
Simple innovations in the past like wider doorways and switches to replace doorknobs have brought us to the dawn of the Smart Home with its life-changing consequences. For people with IDD, technology is, and can be, a game changer.
It was made very clear at the ANCOR Conference that our field needs to use technology to create new opportunities for our DSPs and the people we support. By doing so, we will help to improve the demands of the job and create even more independent lives for people with IDD.