DEALING WITH STAFF TURNOVER
One of the most prevalent obstacles to sustaining meaningful activities over time is staff turnover. Essentially every center-based program will need a plan for training new staff to provide meaningful activities as they replace existing staff who leave the agency. Hence, a clinician should address this issue with relevant agency personnel as part of the maintenance process.
In agencies in which a sizeable number of staff are hired each month, repeating the training and supervision process with groups of new staff as described in Chapter 6, A Staff Training and Supervision Plan to Increase Meaningful Activities, may be feasible for the clinician. Alternatively, the training may become part of an agency’s orientation program conducted by staff development personnel or other designated staff trainers within the agency. On a cautionary note though, personnel other than the clinician should not assume the responsibility of training new staff unless those individuals have been effectively trained themselves in how to train staff regarding provision of meaningful activities (cf. Parsons, Rollyson, & Reid, 2013).
In smaller agencies, there may not be enough new staff to hold a training class on a monthly or other regular basis. In those situations, the most practical plan for preparing new staff to provide meaningful activities is to train staff individually while on the job (Reid et al., in press). Such a plan should involve the clinician or other staff trainer meeting individually with a new staff person to briefly explain the rationale and guidelines for providing meaningful activities. The handout used when training groups of staff as described in Chapter 6, A Staff Training and Supervision Plan to Increase Meaningful Activities, should be provided during the initial meeting. It can also be helpful to temporarily assign the new staff person to existing participant groups with staff who are routinely providing meaningful activities. The opportunity to observe experienced staff and their participant activities can provide the new staff person with a sense of how the guidelines for meaningful activities are applied on the job.
Whether information on the rationale and guidelines for meaningful activities is conveyed either to groups of new staff or individually, the next training step is for the clinician or supervisor to initiate formal monitoring of the staffs’ performance with their assigned participant groups and provide feedback. Monitoring and feedback should occur frequently until the new staff demonstrate an understanding of how to provide meaningful activities. Once formal monitoring indicates that the new staff are reaching the maintenance goal for the desired level of meaningful activities, the frequency of monitoring and feedback can be gradually faded as described earlier in this chapter.