Build a Disability Service that helps people and provides jobs
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After I graduated with my first degree in Education and my shiny new teaching certificate in hand, I thought I was going to embark on a long and fruitful career in teaching. Was I ever young and naive back then! The teaching jobs I acquired ranged from day-to-day substituting to short-term contracts. I later found out my Social Studies speciality was glutted with applicants and not in demand. Since I had two babies and a mortgage to feed, I needed to come to grips with the fact that I either changed specialties or found a different line of work. So, I began to research job options in the newspaper that matched my skill sets. As the unemployment insurance ran out, I starting looking with more fervour. Finally, I applied for a support worker position at an agency servicing people with developmental disabilities. The pay was low ($8.00 an hour to start back in 1990) but at least I had a job to tide me over. This little $8.00 per hour job ended up in moving me into a high 6 figure business opportunity quite rapidly. This article tells you how this happened to me and suggestions on how you can follow suit.
When I started this $8.00 per hour position, I knew I couldn’t make a sustained living so I started to research other jobs in the area. I came to find out the need for support services for people with disabilities of all ages was in high demand holistically. Being in the field with this $8.00 per hour job, I was able to connect with government funders on a regular basis. I found out from these funders that they are always looking for new agencies willing to supply support workers. The agency would receive 18 cents on every dollar funded. So, if I supplied a support worker for a client with a disability and was paying them $2,000.00 per month, I would receive an income of $360.00 per month in administration funding. So, I applied to be an agency for the government and quickly received client referrals. Within 2 years, my payroll was at $500,000 per year. Out of this, my salary ended up being 18 percent of that amount or $90,000.00 per year. My office expenses were low because I worked out of my home.
As I had an extra bedroom in my home, I asked one of my government contacts whether I could place a client in my home. In Alberta, if you take a person with a disability in your home, all revenue received is tax-free. I was quickly approved to receive a client in my home and was receiving $7200.00 a year for Room and Board and $36,000.00 a year support dollars tax-free.
As I got to know more people in the Disability field, I was asked if I would be willing to provide support workers for elderly clients who wish to remain in their homes but require support in home maintenance, cooking dinner and companionship. In this case, the elderly client would pay for the services directly. We ended up having 200 elderly clients and growing with a payroll of $1.6 million per annum. Of which, our agency collected $350,000 per year in fees. As the agency grew, I needed to hire managers who would hire the staff and monitor the quality of care. Even taking this into account, I made a profit of $105,000.00 dollars per annum.
As our agency grew and our reputation solidified, we received calls from different government departments asking us if we would be willing to support children with complex needs residentially. Again, we would receive 18 percent administration fees on the total amount of the contract. We ended up servicing 60 children with an annual budget of 2.3 million dollars. The administration fees ended up to be $460,000 per year. My profit after hiring managers ended up to be $89,000.00 per annum.
The moral of the story is you can change careers, help humanity and be well compensated for your efforts. Setting up an agency for people with disabilities is low cost and requires few skill sets. The main skill sets you require are:
· The love for Humanity. Never forget that all people deserve to be treated with dignity, kindness and have a feeling of purpose no matter the disabilities. Supporting people in their homes or in their communities requires you to have the realization that you do it for the love of humanity first. The money automatically follows your love for humanity.
· Basic understanding of daily life skills. The reason people require support services is because they have difficulty living independently. Depending on the person, supports range from bus training to learning how to cook simple meals to helping them budget their money. The fact is people want to live in their homes. If you don’t believe me, how many of you are looking forward to moving out of your home and into a Nursing facility? Staying in your home is even more possible with the rise of home care nursing and health professionals conducting outreach services in peoples’ homes. Also, governments are moving more to providing home care because it is much cheaper to support someone in their home than in a hospital or institutional setting. Your service is simply providing life skills supports that you do for yourself every day. Other more specialized services are ordered through the hospital or governmental systems.
· Good business common sense, planning and a strong philosophy for humanity: Rules on being a support service agency varies from province to province and state to state. The best way to find out how to be a support services agency is to pick up the telephone book and call the government departments funding people with disabilities. Be sure to do your homework before calling these departments. Common questions asked range from what kinds of services will you provide, what is your philosophy on servicing people with disabilities to how wheel chair accessible is your facility or home? You can also talk with hospital administrators and ask if you can provide a brochure on your support services. Many hospitals are eager to receive service information as they like to have options for people who require support when they leave the hospital.
· Start by supporting people in their homes. It is easier and more cost effective if you start by offering “outreach services.” This way, you do not need huge start up costs by supplying a facility. Also, you stay true to your mission that all people deserve to live in their own homes.
The support services industry is going to continue to grow. As people get older, their chances of becoming disabled rises and conversely their need for support personnel rises as well. Governments are taking a good, hard look at home services due to their desire to contain costs. The fact is institutional care is more costly and less humane than community support. As the deinstitutionalization movement continues, governments will be seeking more community support services.
Lastly, this business is literally recession-proof because no matter how bad the economy gets, people with disabilities still require supports. North American governments will be very reluctant to cut these services as many of them are essential for peoples’ very lives. Also, you are not only securing a long-term, high paying job for yourself, but you will also create top jobs that are secure for others too! The best aspect of developing a disability service is how many lives you will touch through your service delivery. People with disabilities should also consider setting up an agency. After all, your clients will find no better an advocate than you as you know what life is like being disabled and needing supports.
People with disabilities have talents!
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