Honoring Direct Care Professionals
April is Direct Care Appreciation Month — and here at KVC Missouri, we are pleased to celebrate our remarkable Direct Care professionals. This month is all about supporting a group of professionals who invest their days in direct service to others.
What is Direct Care, and why is it so integral to our services at KVC Missouri? Let’s take a look at the profession, and hear a Direct Care story from one of our team members.
What is Direct Care?
In general, direct care involves the hands-on responsibility of overseeing the health and welfare needs of clients. Professionals in this role provide personal care services and help to those who need assistance or are unable to do certain activities on their own. Their fulfilling work includes supporting clients while they eat, dress, bathe, groom, clean and more.
In reality, the direct care profession goes much deeper than surface-level hygiene. Many make a difference in the lives of the clients they are serving by offering compassionate support and creating a more fulfilling living environment. Each direct care team member takes an active role in helping to achieve personal or treatment-driven goals, teaching or modeling positive behavior and managing a safe space for clients to reside. They can also be a great resource for nursing staff, therapists or case managers by documenting daily activities and reinforcing treatment plans. Their consistent presence and care create an opportunity to build trust with the clients and make a positive impact.
In the KVC environment, direct care workers wear many hats. In addition to interacting with the children who they serve, direct care team members work alongside other types of direct care employees and different department professionals, including behavioral health technicians, case managers and therapists. Each of these roles plays a part in spending ample time with children throughout their daily routines, checking on a child’s progress and evaluating their situation.
In many cases, the direct care professionals act as the glue to the team supporting each child’s success.
“Without these great staff, none of us (the team) would be able to do our jobs,” says Lydia Gentry, part of our KVC Missouri team.
Direct care workers can be found spending time with these kids during their daily activities including meal times, while playing sports, during their nighttime routines or (depending on the situation) while they sleep. Their consistency with the client can help to set the foundation for success stories, stories like this one.
Direct Care Success Stories
“Direct care involves being present and being available to those we serve, even when they’re not ready,” Lydia recalls.
Lydia Gentry, Performance Improvement Specialist, remembers a client who arrived at KVC Missouri somewhat guarded and not willing to warm up to those around him. “I think he was used to being uninformed about what was happening, and that led to him feeling out of control,” Lydia says. “Once you treated him like a human being, including giving him the information he needed, he really turned around and knew we were going to respect him.”
“Our direct care team had worked really well with him, and for him, it felt like a new start,” she says. “It started out rocky but ended with ‘feel-good’ feelings. Having the patience to sit down and have conversations. Kids have a million questions, and it’s important to share, ‘this is what’s going to happen, this is what to expect.’ It can be hard to set that time aside because of the busy work atmosphere, but it’s important.”
Sometimes feeling as though you have no control over a situation can cause a string of complications, but something as simple as setting aside time to establish a strong foundation and communicate can make all the difference in the world.
This story stands out in Lydia’s mind. But it’s just one of the countless success stories that come to life at KVC because of our dedicated staff. “Our staff members are caring, and just truly want to do good in this world,” she says. “I think that’s what makes the difference.”
Making a Difference with KVC
There are many more lives to impact and success stories to be made. KVC works to better the lives of children within the communities and surrounding areas they serve, and the positive impact is growing. With services like children’s mental health treatment, inpatient and outpatient care, residential care and treatment foster care, there are numerous opportunities to positively change a child’s life.
KVC fosters a culture of teamwork throughout all levels of employment, as well as among departments, that are dedicated to providing top-notch support to their staff. A national survey shows that our 1,600 team members across five states are significantly more engaged and satisfied than the average worker due to KVC’s inspiring mission, tremendous flexibility, inclusive culture, and robust compensation and benefits. Lydia mentions that staff members always try to give uplifting messages and shout-outs to the direct care workers to support their meaningful work.
In addition to our strong company culture, KVC Missouri’s team members enjoy a variety of benefits, including the following:
- Competitive pay and benefits package
- Flexible hybrid jobs
- Medical plans with generous employer contribution and free employee dental insurance
- 403(b) Retirement Plan with immediate company match and only a one-year vesting period requirement
- Employer-paid group life and disability coverage
- Tuition and CEU reimbursement
- Generous combination of paid time off and holidays
- A positive, supportive culture where employee opinions count
- Commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging
- Fun including meals, parties and casual get-togethers
- Ongoing training and learning opportunities
KVC Missouri has more than 800 caring team members and over 20 locations statewide with regional hubs in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield, Columbia and St. James. For those considering a career in direct care or looking to make a difference in the lives of others, KVC is a great place to better yourself and the world around you.