The week of September 11-17, 2016 has been declared State and National Direct Support Professionals Week. Dickinson Center, Inc. encourages the public to recognize and express appreciation for the work of community providers caring for our friends, family, and neighbors with intellectual, development, physical, and other disabilities.
Many residents of our region are unaware of the important services that Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) provide, although many may know people who would benefit from support or may someday need support themselves. DSPs assist their clients with activities of daily living. Many individuals are able to live in a home in their community because of this assistance. This workforce is responsible for the health, safety, and emotional well-being of the individuals they support. DSPs help individuals to live more meaningful and productive lives by encouraging them to be active in the community and helping them to maintain their independence.
The need for the quality care provided by DSPs is constantly growing as the population ages and those living with disabilities increases. The number of people who chose the direct support field as a profession, however, is not meeting this growth. Although most direct support jobs are considered entry level positions, the DSP carries a big responsibility. Low reimbursement rates for state-and federally-funded services allow providers little flexibility with competitive wages for DSPs, contributing to a shortage of these workers to serve those in need.
Dickinson Center’s direct support staff have many examples of how their work is life-enriching for both themselves and the people they serve. Relationships that are formed through direct care are built on mutual trust and respect. Individuals grow to look forward to the help and support of their caregivers. Family members provide positive and respectful input. DSPs accept the individuals for who they are, celebrate their successes, and welcome the privilege to work with those that they support.
During Direct Support Professionals Week, Dickinson Center encourages the public to learn about the services provided by DSPs and to support policies to improve funding for these services in order to ensure they are available when needed.