Rewarding Work Uses the Web to Connect People with Workers
January 22, 2011 Rewarding Work Resources, Inc., a Brookline-based nonprofit that enables the elderly and people with disabilities to live independently, is using web-based technologies to deliver on its mission of connecting people with workers who can assist them, at low cost.
Using a combination of partnerships, technology, and customer service, Rewarding Work Resources
runs a web based, self-directed registry that helps elders and people with disabilities live independently in communities of their choice, and not in nursing homes or institutions. The company operates registries in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, and New Jersey.
Elenore Parker, president of Rewarding Work, said she developed the registry when she realized that many elders and people with disabilities were often on their own when it came to hiring personal care assistants/caregivers.
For many individuals the hiring was hit or miss, expensive and time consuming often involving help wanted ads, community bulletin boards and word of mouth, she said. We saw that there were many qualified caregivers looking for work. The challenge was to connect the two groups.
Rewarding Work, which operates with a staff of three, came up with the concept of a web based directory and began partnering with state governments that recognized the concept as an affordable way to deliver self-directed services.
Participating states personalize their version of the registry in any way they choose, and benefit from the cooperative nature of the website. When website enhancements are made for one state, all of the states and the individuals they serve benefit.
In Massachusetts, the registrycalled the Mass. PCA (for Personal Care Attendants) Referral Directoryis free for MassHealth PCA recipients and affordable for nearly anyone else, with monthly subscriptions starting at $10. Directory users, or consumers, can find qualified caregivers even more easily now, thanks to recent website upgrades that make it easier to search, save searches and sign up for email notifications when new workers meeting search criteria apply. Job seekers register free of charge.
Since launching in September 2009, more than 1,700 MassHealth consumers and nearly 10,000 workers have signed on to the directory.
Joe Tringali, who serves on the Massachusetts PCA Quality Home Care Workforce Council, directs community services at a Massachusetts independent living center, and depends on PCA services himself, said that the directory is making a difference for him and many others.
You have to remember the work that you're doing makes my life a lot easier both personally and professionally. I think this tool has the potential to be a big help, he noted.
Providing Access to People Who Dont Use Computers
Recognizing that access to a web based registry could be an issue for individuals who dont use or own computers, Rewarding Work came up with several solutions. In Massachusetts, Rewarding Work partners with the PCA Workforce Council and with 29 personal care management agencies that provide services to elder and people with disabilities throughout the state. Some staff at these agencies have agreed to help conduct online searches for consumers without computers. Workers in any state can apply for a job by telephone, toll-free, if they dont have online access.
Recently Rewarding Work began outreach to other agencies that also work with elders and people with disabilities. For a small fee, these organizations receive a listing on the website, promotional materials, and a number of free subscriptions for employees, such as skills trainers, to help people hire caregivers.
Parker said online access is less of an issue than originally anticipated: Aging and retiring baby boomers are computer savvy and embrace the online concept. And many consumers who dont use computers enlist the help of a family member or friend to help them.
Rewarding Work supports customer by telephone and email, and stays in touch with consumers, workers, and agencies through electronic newsletters and social media sites.
Recent upgrades include the capability for consumers to post job requirements describing their needs, and sponsorship opportunities for organizations providing services and products to people with disabilities and elders.
Parker sees a bright future for her organization. We look forward to continue making online searches more effective and providing opportunities for PCA consumers and workers to connect, both in person and online, she said.