Care Champion CareCast with Heather Melo

Care Champion CareCast with Heather Melo

Did you know that Heather has a cat named “Bear,” is a huge fan of Marvel movies, and has a one-year old daughter? Check out the full video below.

This month, Assistant Director of Day Programs Heather Melo sat down with CareCast host Dan Esdale. Heather happily shared insights in her role working at Incompass Human Services, and definitely had a little fun! She has spent virtually her entire career working in the field of human services, and had some heart-warming stories to share. During the conversation, she shares some of her favorite memories, tells us what she likes most about working in the field, and even gives us her take on the Brady vs. Belichick debate!

When asked how Heather would describe the Incompass experience, she had a wonderful answer!

“For me, I feel that all the staff are super invested in all of the individuals who come through this door. I feel that Incompass does a really great job of investing their time and really getting to know the individual; not just in the ways that we have to write their goals and all of those day-to-day things, but as a whole and I think we do a really good job with that.”

Heather also shared her favorite part of working as a Care Champion for Incompass…

“My favorite part is that I’m working with new people everyday, and I’m working with people who’ve been here for years and years. Seeing their growth over a time period is really fulfilling to see. And a lot of times when you know you’ve made a positive impact on those folks and you’re a part of that process, it’s great!”

Heather ended the conversation by saying “let’s do it again!” You can hear the CareCast on Spotify and iTunes as well…just search for Incompass Human Services!

And guess what…Incompass is hiring! Know someone you think would be a great fit? Let us know, as we’d love to talk to them. We have open positions in day programs and residential services, with both full-time and part-time roles available. Check out our open positions here.

Support the Human Services Workforce

Support the Human Services Workforce

On April 12, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services reached a “hazard pay” agreement effective through May 30 with several unions representing state health and human services workers. As a result, state employees working on the front lines will earn an additional $5 or $10 an hour, enhanced overtime pay, and are eligible for a bonus of up to $500.

This agreement has created an extreme pay disparity that will have catastrophic consequences for community-based human service agencies, compromising our ability to provide quality care and supports to individuals with an intellectual or developmental disability (ID/DD). Paying one group of staff doing this important work substantially more than another sends a very clear message that one group of workers is valued over another.

There are approximately 150,000 human services workers in the Commonwealth who provide critical supports to some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens and families. Many of these employees are still working, having been deemed “essential” by Governor Charlie Baker for their roles providing care and supports for people with intellectual and developmental (ID/DD) disabilities living in the community.

While they may not be as visible as healthcare workers, first responders, and those who are working on the front lines in grocery stores and delivery services, community-based human services staff are putting themselves at risk to support the individuals that they serve. They support a largely invisible population and they do it without fanfare. They are working in group homes, providing vital assistance to individuals with an ID/DD in their homes, coordinating medical services, and executing personalized support plans for families among many other tasks.

Bottom line? The entire ID/DD workforce is essential. Without them, the consequences to the people they serve would be catastrophic. Direct support professionals (DSPs) at Arc-affiliated chapters in all 351 communities of the Commonwealth are taking on additional responsibility in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, including temperature and wellness checks, PPE training, and coordination with health care professionals.

To be clear, we strongly support “hazard pay” for our DSP workforce. To date, many community-based human service agencies have already put temporary “hazard pay” compensation in place with limited additional support from the state. But the sad reality is that nonprofit organizations who rely on state contracts for the majority of their revenue cannot afford to offer a comparable wage increase without commensurate increases in rates on our state contracts. We, like many other organizations, are struggling in this unprecedented time.

Given the already existing pay inequities for provider agencies in comparison to wages paid by the state for the same work, it has become exponentially more challenging for community-based agencies to fill critical human service job openings. Many of our staff work two jobs to provide for their families as it is, and this hazard pay agreement between the state and its employees only exacerbates that inequity.

We fear that in the absence of action on the part of the administration to align the compensation of DSPs in state-run facilities and community-based agencies, we will have a workforce crisis on our hands. We are actively managing a healthcare crisis: this is the worst possible time for a workforce crisis.

The people we serve can’t afford to lose these experienced and dedicated direct care professionals. We urge the administration to act quickly to fix this inequity…before it’s too late.


Jean M. Phelps, CEO