Tips for Hiring FMS (Family Managed Supports) Staff
Over the past couple of years, and in particular during the pandemic, the landscape of support workers has shifted and families have been challenged to find staff. What does this mean for families using Family Managed Supports (FMS) funding and hiring staff? What does it look like to hire staff who will support a family member along an inclusive pathway?
Before we answer these questions, there are a few distinctive guiding features used by families to successfully hire staff: being heartfelt, perseverance and courage. While these features may appear to be cliche and at times difficult, they really work.
- Be clear, open and honest with yourself, your loved one and potential staff about what you are looking for.
- Persevere through the process and be willing to not give up even when hiring does not work the first, second or third time.
- Have courage to stay true to your vision and the support necessary to create the life you want for your family member.
This is not to say this is an easy task, but one that will help support your loved one on a path to a meaningful life.
Before you hire:
- Visit Inclusion Alberta’s Online FMS Guide for helpful tips and to hear first-hand what experienced families have to say about hiring staff.
- Create or revise the vision for your family member. Identify your family member’s interests and passions to share with staff.
- Create an action plan with your family member incorporating interests and passions.
- Identify the supports needed (How will staff assist your family member?)
- Create a job description (staff roles and responsibilities, competencies, values, attitudes and interest).
Who do I hire?
Do I hire someone who has the same interest as my family member, or do I hire based on havingexperience working with people with developmental disabilities? There is no one right answer. Hiring someone with similar interests can open a world of possibilities of meeting other people where friendships can be made and in turn provide the natural supports we all enjoy.
As an example, one individual was interested in learning guitar and the family hired a staff who had experience and enjoyed teaching guitar, creating possibilities to meet and develop relationships with other guitar enthusiasts. Another family hired staff who were very active and enjoyed outdoor activities and nature. The individual also joined a walking and skiing group. As natural friendships developed within the group, one group member identified a potential employment opportunity which turned into a permanent job for the individual creating more relationships and opportunities.
While there are a few methods to find staff, experience has taught us that asking people in our networks and asking those individuals to ask people in their networks if they know of anyone who would like to support your family member garners good results.
For example, as one family was thinking about who they knew, a teacher they knew walked by. They simply got up the courage and asked if the teacher knew anyone. As it turned out, the teacher’s daughter was looking for work, had experience and similar interests as the family member. Families have asked neighbors, friends, coworkers, hairdressers, massage therapists, faith communities, and community members and have been successful in finding staff for their loved one.
Advertising is another method to hire and there are a number of places to post ads, some with a cost and others with no cost. Consider the interests of the individual and post ads within a particular venue where people with similar interests gather. Lastly, look for places in the immediate community, whether physical or on social media, where ads can be posted.
The Hiring Process
There are a few good practices families have identified to ensure a smooth and successful hiring process:
- If possible, interview with another person and engage your family member in the process.
- Prepare questions ahead of time.
- If you are unsure of questions you can and cannot ask, review “A Recommended Guide for Pre-Employment Inquiries (Alberta Human Rights Commission)”.
- Complete reference checks (reference check questions)
- Prior to staff starting work, request a Criminal Record Check complete with a Vulnerable Sector Check. For staff working with children and youth, request an Intervention Record Check.
- Here is a Staff Recruitment Checklist for you to have on-hand.
Once staff are hired:
Orient staff to hours of work, timing of pay, clarify roles, review your vision and goals for your family member and set regular meeting times to review and reflect on progress Here is a Staff Orientation Checklist for you to have on-hand.
We encourage you to check out our Online FMS Guide, as it is full of tips and resources that can help you hire the right staff for your family member. The Inclusion Alberta Find Staff Database is also available to families and FMS staff alike, and support can always be found at either one of our Inclusion Alberta Family Resource Centres: The Darrell Cook Family Managed Supports Resource Centre in Calgary and the Inclusion Alberta Family Resource Centre in Grande Prairie.