Credentialing as a predictor of staff retention in supports for aging adults with developmental disabilities
Laws, Carol Britton
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Direct support workers face a myriad of challenges on the job which are intensified by the complexities of supporting aging clients. Previous research indicates that high demand and low control contributes to occupational strain and voluntary staff turnover. The purpose of this study was to explore multiple hypotheses related to staff retention; most importantly, that completion of a competency-based credentialing program is a significant predictor of worker retention in community-based intellectual and developmental disability services. Theoretically, the study used a job demand/control/support framework to explain staff turnover and posited that the completion of competency-based training courses will increase a worker’s self-efficacy and affect her desire to remain on the job. This study used an exploratory cross-sectional online survey design. Ninety-seven workers were conveniently sampled from organizations in Ohio which offer a state-level professional credential based on a competency-based curriculum. Data were collected on credential completion and age of persons supported, as well as explanatory variables identified in the literature as antecedents to retention including worker age, tenure, job demand, perceived control, perceived organizational support, general self-efficacy, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction. The response variable in this study was turnover intent. The data were analyzed using descriptive, bivariate, and multiple regression methods. The results showed that job satisfaction was the most critical predictor of retention. Credentialed staff demonstrated higher tenure but lower self-efficacy than other groups. Interestingly, staff working toward the credential had the highest self-efficacy which was attributed to the presence of a skills mentor. Staff who primarily support aging adults showed lower empowerment/control than their peers. Descriptive data suggest that they are also at higher risk of attrition. A path model illustrating the significant relationships between the variables associated with retention was developed and recommendations for social work and organizational practices in the disability sector were discussed. Further implications for policy and future research were shared.