Becca: Building a relationship with an employer for a successful job match



Becca started with the Work Independence Network (WIN)* pilot project in 2004, and now works as an office clerk at Harrison Hospital in Washington 20 hours per week. Becca performs a wide range of tasks at the hospital. She tears down patient charts, prepares intake packets, and supports staff on clerical projects. She also makes copies and faxes documents to doctors in various departments. This job match is successful because of Becca's commitment and energy, and also because her job developer was able to engage Harrison Hospital, showing how creating a position for Becca would help to make one of its departments more efficient.

What's important

Partnering with the county Developmental Disabilities office, Becca's employment support provider, Able Opportunities, approached Harrison Hospital, one of the largest private employers in the area. Able Opportunities began by developing a relationship with the hospital's Human Resources (HR) recruiter, discussing the possibility that the hospital could hire more people with disabilities. The idea was then pitched to the hospital's CEO, who decided to give it a try. Administrators noted that employing people with disabilities was consistent with the hospital's mission, core values, and commitment to its community members. In addition, Able Opportunities was able to show the hospital that hiring through their program could improve their efficiency.

After building relationships with HR and administrative staff, the next challenge was to engage individual departments, who have the most control over hiring. Able Opportunities followed a recommendation from the HR recruiter to approach the Rehabilitation Department and to build relationships with its staff. Together, Able Opportunities and the rehabilitation staff identified administrative and clerical tasks that took clinical staffers' time away from direct services to patients. The end result of these discussions was the creation of a new job for Becca in the department. Becca's coworkers were initially unsure about this newly created position. Becca's job coach took the time to reassure them, explaining that the coach would orient Becca to her new tasks and responsibilities and would help provide a seamless transition into the department. Becca is now described as integral to the department, and staff attribute part of her success to the job coach's responsiveness and involvement. As part of Project WIN, job coaches support several individuals with disabilities who work throughout the hospital. The coaches maintain an onsite presence that is highly integrated with the hospital staff. Job coaches have access to departments to carve out or negotiate jobs, and can quickly respond to any issues that arise during the workday. Through an ongoing relationship with hospital staff, Becca and her job coach are able to assess the needs of the department and to find ways that Becca can contribute further.

What happened

Becca is a benefited employee and says that her job is "perfect." Staff note that morale has increased in her department due to Becca's enthusiasm for her work, and coworkers say that it is a pleasure working with her.

Becca's job developer identified the hospital's need to free up clinical staff to spend more time on patient care. The new position balanced the needs of the employer with Becca's potential contributions. Staff have documented that Becca's work saves clinical staff up to an hour and a half per day, increasing the time they can spend with patients. Once this was demonstrated, the Labor and Delivery Department expressed an interest in having Becca work for them as well. She now divides her time between these two departments.

Lessons learned:

  • Assess the work environment to identify tasks that pull staff away from their core functions. Becca's employment staff identified specific tasks that were distracting staff from their core work and demonstrated to the employer how Becca could increase departmental efficiency.
  • During the planning process, Matt's employment provider recognized the need to shift gears and implemented a rapid job search process, immediately beginning to investigate job options and put supports in place.
  • Recognize the importance of building a sustained and trusting relationship with an employer. Job-coaching staff formed a relationship with the hospital, ensuring that hospital staff felt that their needs were addressed on an ongoing basis.

For more information contact:

Jennifer L. White
Able Opportunities, Inc.
Phone: 360-638-0881

*Work Independence Network: