nuts and bolts of being a "care coach"
A Direct Support Professional (DSP) is someone who works directly with people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). Usually, DSPs offer specialized support aimed to help people realize their full potential. They help people with disabilities to become integrated and engaged in their community by assisting with everyday tasks, such as housekeeping, meal preparation, attending appointments, and running errands. Depending on the patient's condition, these support professionals may also administer medications, develop a behavioral management plan, and maintain medical records for the people they are attending to.
At The Center our DSP's are called "Care Coaches" as our focus is to develop independent living skills, encouraging agency for our Members.
In the past, DSPs were trained as caregivers. However, over the last few decades, the needs of those being served have evolved. Thus, the role of DSPs consequently began to change in order to adapt to the changing needs, and DSPs now take on different aspects and roles than those of caregivers. It is no longer about doing things for people, but about helping them to learn how to do things for themselves.
The Difference Between a DSP and a Caregiver
Qualifications usually vary from state to state, but the primary role of a DSP is to provide support. This is different from caregiving or providing in-home healthcare. A caregiver or home health aide will do things for their clients, such as picking out and purchasing groceries. On the other hand, a DSP will work with people that they are supporting in order to help them do things on their own, like choosing their own groceries and paying the cashier. DSPs teach people with disabilities how to do things independently, whereas caregivers perform tasks for them.
Skills That Make a Good DSP
There are several different skills that define a good DSP, including:
Direct Support Professional Duties and Responsibilities
DSPs help individuals with IDDs by providing them with safe living environments, helping them with daily tasks, and teaching them life skills. Direct support professionals commonly help with the following tasks:
DSPs can work with adults as well as children. DSPs and the individuals with IDDs they support usually feel a great sense of accomplishment when an individual learns to complete a new task by themselves.
How to Become a Direct Support Professional
There are no formal requirements to become a direct support professional, though some training is needed. Many direct professional jobs require a Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certificate and on-the-job training. Other positions require completion of a caregiver training program. Training programs, such as those offered by the Red Cross and local hospitals, help you study the basics of home-based care to gain the skills and qualifications you need to fulfill your responsibilities in this career. For someone to increase their job opportunities, they can obtain certification through the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).
Direct Support Professional Training Training and mentoring are necessary components to assist the DSP with tools and knowledge so they can support a person in the most successful way. Web-based training for DSPs is available in some states. The web-based courses and lessons usually lay the foundation of information that sets a standard of practices. However, the second component, mentoring, usually assists DSPs to transfer their training information and knowledge to the worksite and the individuals they support. Both training and mentoring work hand in hand.
Training and mentoring must include practical "how-to" skill-building. Training sessions involve lectures, discussions, and exercises. Mentoring involves a process of observation, practice, guided discussions, and a review of written materials, such as individual support plans and progress notes. These techniques are key components of ongoing training and mentoring. They assure that the DSP is truly able to apply his or her knowledge in an effective way during their jobs.
Case Study Example In the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Becca Meyers, a swimmer seen as a favorite to win gold, canceled her plans to compete in the Paralympics after being told that she can't be accompanied by her DSP to Tokyo. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) officials said that they didn't have space for her to bring an aide due to the coronavirus restrictions on athletic delegations. The Becca Meyers case shows how important DSPs are in helping their clients in their daily life activities.
New Transitions Center is a community-based organization focused on enhancing the lives of young adults with special needs and the loved ones who support them in the Roanoke, Texas area. The Center supports young adults with varying degrees of intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities, including those who may need assistance with ambulation and personal hygiene. Find out how you can help us fulfill our mission and maintain a low enrollee-to-caretaker ratio by donating to our cause, exploring our events and campaigns, or contacting us to join as a community partner today!
Updated Precautions and guidelines
In response to the COVID-19 Delta Variant spreading, reopening of schools, and pending fall/winter flu season there is a concern to ensure safety and reduce exposure to primarily COVID-19. The below plans are in place at The Center, based on CDC Recommendations and local Health Department guidance.
The primary objective is to avoid temporary closure and prepare for contingencies if a Member or staff get sick from COVID-19 or the flu. These guidelines have been adapted due to the nature of our services and are to be adhered to by active Members, their immediate family and all staff.
First a few clarifications:
What is considered fully vaccinated?
An individual is considered “fully vaccinated” at 2 weeks from final vaccination injection (including third booster when available for COVID-19) and subsequent annual booster when available for either COVID-19 or Seasonal Influenza. It is expected after 2 weeks from vaccine that the immune system has developed an adequate response to preventing transmission and severe complications of COVID-19.
What is considered an exposure to COVID-19?
Close contact <6 feet apart and >15 minutes, with or without protection (ie face masks) with someone who has any of the below, whether you are fully immunized or not:
What are the Symptoms of concern?
COVID-19 symptoms are of primary concern but signs of the Seasonal Flu are also of concern at The Center due to the impact on staffing. Major symptoms that present for both viruses include: Coughing, Fever >100 degrees F or Chills, Body Aches
What happens if a Member or Staff has tested positive for COVID-19? What are the self-quarantine guidelines?
The general rule of thumb is to remain isolated until 72 hrs has passed with no active symptoms OR until you have at least 1 Negative COVID-19 test. Below is the “window of exposure” and quarantine timeline we consider and adhere to for each exposure or positive COVID-19 test:
*If within your household others may have tested positive for COVID-19 all household members should be symptoms free for 72 hrs before Staff/Members return to The Center.
*For Staff - to support self-quarantine - PTO/Sick Time is applied if available.
What about if you are unsure about your risk of exposure as a Staff/Member? Do you still need to self-quarantine?
The medical community is constantly learning more about how COVID-19 is transmitted but it is important to recognize that individuals can transmit the virus and may be infectious even if they themselves are not showing any signs or symptoms of COVID-19. Fully vaccinated individuals can still transmit the virus, although this is less common. It is also important to remember that the Flu virus is highly infectious and can live on hard surfaces for up to 24 hours which is why adhering to added precautions and best practices is recommended.
To ensure the safety of our community and avoid unnecessary closures we recommend that at least an at-home COVID-19 Rapid Test is taken if there is any concern – regardless of vaccination status. These can be purchased at local pharmacies for ~$24 and include 2 at-home tests. The results are available within 15 min and have a high confidence/reliability score to PCR-Lab Test results. Based on the at-home test results follow the above guidelines.
What qualifies as a negative COVID-19 Test?
A Negative COVID-19 test is considered a confirmed negative PCR-Test (lab test) or 2 consecutive at-home tests taken per instructions with both tests resulting as negative. We expect that proof of test is communicated by providing either a screen shot of lab test or a picture of an home test.
The Center has a small but mighty team. If staff members are out sick, unable to work AND we cannot accommodate alternative staffing we may have to temporarily close or modify our services until staffing needs are resolved. We acknowledge that this is inconvenient especially if we are unable to provide advanced notice. We will try our best to build support for staffing such as volunteers and substitute part-time staff BUT we have financial limitations that restrict these options. In addition, if we have to temporarily close our services the duration and costs of closure may prevent our ability to successfully reopen. We are confident that if we maintain a common agreement on General Safety and Social Distancing Guidelines amongst staff and Members, we will stay healthy, safe, stable and remain open. Membership credits for temporary closures are at the discretion of the Executive Director.
NTC Community Safety and Social Distancing Guidelines for Staff, Members and Families
(Regardless of Vaccination Status)
We ask that our staff, active Members and their families in addition to the above adhere to the below safety and social distancing guidelines whenever possible:
- Recent coughing?
- Difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath?
*If a Member or Staff presents with any symptoms, we ask that The Center staff is notified ASAP so we may proceed with necessary precautions to maintain the safety of our staff and community. Staff are instructed to inform parents if there are any concerns or symptoms arise while at The Center.
Daily Arrival and Departure Protocol
Key Program Changes
Sterilization Protocol - for Staff to Follow at The Center
References and Resources:
Tarrant County COVID-19 Vaccination Registration Link
COVID-19 Vaccination Resources
Compass Pharmacy – The Center Partner for Reduced Flu Vaccine Rates and Resources Monica Boyd, PharmD
CVS Drive Thru Testing - Appointment Only
CDC - Coping with Stress
CDC - Symptoms of Coronavirus COVID-19
CDC - Criteria for Return to Work for Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection (Interim Guidance)
CDC - Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic
CDC – Possibility of Breakthrough Infections
Download our guidelines
There are many different types of disorders, disabilities, and diseases that affect people and inhibit their ability to do certain things on their own. According to the CDC, 26% of adults (61 million people) in the United States have some kind of disability. When these disabilities require extra help, it is often referred to as having “special needs.” So, what are the different kinds of special needs?
People with special needs often rely on their family and friends for assistance in their daily lives. However, not everyone is trained in the best practices for caring for an individual with special needs. Only being around family and close friends can also limit a person’s exposure to the outside world, new experiences, and interactions with people similar to themselves.
New Transitions Center is a community-based organization focused on enhancing the lives of young adults with special needs and the loved ones who support them in the Roanoke, Texas area. Our model focuses on higher need, medically fragile individuals who we provide with the highest quality of care. We achieve this by maintaining a low staff-to-member ratio, with 1 person on staff for every 4 members. Find out how you can help our mission by donating or by contacting us to join us as a community partner!
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a phrase that has become increasingly popular as our country works to become better for all who live here. This includes people who have been overlooked, under-resourced, and marginalized throughout history. By promoting DEI, we can work to improve the lives of these individuals and provide them with the necessary tools to thrive. So, what exactly do diversity, equity, and inclusion mean?
DEI is especially prevalent with younger generations who are shaping the future of the country. By celebrating diversity, promoting equity, and creating an inclusive society we can improve the lives of the millions of people who have been overlooked for too long. Everyone benefits when people have the opportunity to live full, meaningful, and enjoyable lives.
New Transitions Center is a community-based organization focused on enhancing the lives of young adults with special needs and the loved ones who support them in the Roanoke, Texas area. The Center supports diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community of young adults with varying degrees of intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities. Find out how you can help our mission by donating or by contacting us to join us as a community partner!
PROGRAM PILLARS - VOCATIONAL TRAINING (PART 6 OF 6)
The Center does not support vocational placement or formal vocational training, but we do practice skills that are in line with vocational training and promote independence. Some of our daily activities focus on hand-eye coordination and manipulatives to practice sorting and matching objects.
Our Direct Care Coaches teach laundry skills by assisting our members with loading, unloading and folding laundry. They also teach independent prepping, cooking and cleaning skills daily. These skills are encouraged and promoted daily which help our Members engage with their families at home to be more independent.
One of our big goals moving forward is to build a community backyard garden! We have some raised beds and are growing seedlings inside for transfer. We hope to design an adaptive garden for our Members to learn how to support, grow and harvest the plants and flowers in the coming year. You can support our Garden Build Out by supporting our operational funds by DONATING Learn more below.
what is formal vocational training?
Vocational Rehabilitation programs help people with disabilities prepare for, find or retain employment and help youth and students prepare for post-secondary opportunities. The programs also help businesses and employers recruit, retain and accommodate employees with disabilities. Texas Workforce Commission have formal state-funded programs that facilitate job training, placement and retention. You can learn more about these programs by clicking here.
Most of our Members and the population we serve do not qualify for these formal programs but that doesn't mean that they can't learn, practice and demonstrate valuable independent and vocational skills. We focus on skills that our Members benefit from in their daily life, most of which translate into vocational skills despite having the goals of independent employment.
As The Center grows we hope to engage and learn more about how we may adapt and provide more formal vocational training services for our Members, either internally through our community garden and crafts or partnering with our local "Friends of The Center".
program pillars - physical activity (part 5 of 6)
Staying healthy and moving each day is not just important for our Members but also our Team! We enjoy daily physical activities at The Center and some of our favorites are adaptive yoga, dancing and throwing “hoops” or playing catch. For our Members with more physical disabilities we accommodate activities that meet their needs so they are included in the activity and gain the social interaction even if they are unable to full participate. When weather permits, we enjoy visiting and playing at the local parks and going on community walks.
some of our favorite adaptive activities
Our Members love music and dancing! Some of our favorite and frequent "dance classes" or adaptive physical activities are listed below:
Ready Set Go Athletics!
Adaptive PE Classes with Miss Coach (fun fact Miss Coach is the Aunt of our Acting Executive Director, Amber Caldwell and her son Luke is Autistic and assists her in most of the videos!)
Head - Shoulders - Knees & Toes!
Hip - Hop Fairy Tales
ROYGBIV - Colors of The Rainbow
Any of Jack Hartmann's videos really - we are all fans!
Want to join in on the fun - we are always looking for volunteers, learn more by clicking below.
PROGRAM PILLARS - SENSORY & SELF CARE (PART 4 OF 6)
For some of our Members sensory stimuli can be a motivator or an inhibitor for learning and social engaging. For those with more significant special needs lights, noise, technology and sometimes smells and colors can all factor into the ability for the individual to participate or engage in various activities.
We have a “sensory” room that has adaptive lights, beanbag chairs and artwork to reduce sensory stimuli when our Members need that reprieve. Alternatively, we have adaptive equipment to support sensory needs such as icon cards, “switch” tools and tactile boards that facilitate communication.
Personal hygiene is practiced daily when it comes to toileting, eating and cleaning. Some of our Members are focused on teeth brushing and maintaining a clean and organized personal space so these tasks are reinforced by our direct Care Coaches throughout the day 1:1.
SELF AGENCY - WITH SUPPORT
Some of our Members need significant supervision and support with personal hygiene care. These services are provided by our direct Care Coaches whom are sensitive to ensuring dignity, respect and self-agency when supporting our Members. We provide full-toileting support for those Members who need this level of care and have a private designated changing room to support these needs.
The quality of care we provide at The Center is directly related to the skills and expertise of our direct care team. We are committed to recruiting and retaining a strong direct care team that provides the best care for our Members. The overhead to provide this level of care is significant and our donors help ensure that we are able to maintain this level of quality care. To learn more about how you can support The Center and help us reach our operational goals by DONATING click below.
program pillars - life skills (Part 3 of 6)
Independent life skills lead to personal agency. Despite our Members having challenges with the ability to do many tasks independently they practice these skills daily with assistance. Most of our Members focus on personal goals related to life skills such as being able to identify key places, signs, shapes and colors, assist with lunch preparation and cleaning, practicing laundry and folding skills.
On a daily basis their personal hygiene goals are supported by our direct Care Coaches and depending on their needs some focus on independence when toileting. The intention is for our Members to experience agency and focus on hand-eye coordination, practice asking or communicating needs and be able to grow more independently despite needing more hands-on support.
passionate about helping people?
Our Direct Care Coaches and volunteers are critical to support the needs of our Members as some require 1:1 support and hand over hand instructions. We are eager to connect with those who are passionate about the population we serve and are always seeking volunteer support. If you are interested in learning more about our available positions or how you can volunteer click below.
program pillars - COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT (Part 2 of 6)
Some of our best memories growing up are riding the school bus and going on a field trip! Our Members, having recently graduated from school miss the daily routine of riding the bus and it is one of their most favorite activities!
Through a generous grant from The Heart Space Initiative, we were awarded $55K for our “Wheels for The Center” to purchase our beloved bus! We can accommodate 14 seated or up to 4 wheelchairs and 6 seated which allows us to safely coordinate outings and field trips for all our Members.
We focus on locations that are nearby and provide safe accommodations to support lunch and hygiene activities. Some of our favorite outings have been to the Aquarium, Petting Zoo and of course Bowling! Community engagement is a critical factor in our ability to enhance advocacy and awareness for local businesses to support special needs. Regular and frequent engagement with our local businesses build a strong supportive community and lead to increasing the comfort level of our Members while in the community.
Members practice safely navigating getting in and off the bus, appropriate behavior while in the community such as properly greeting and interacting with others. They practice personal finance and agency by ordering and purchasing items for The Center’s upcoming projects or for their own lunch "off-campus". Members are strictly supervised while in the community and we tend to have volunteers join us for longer outings to provide more hands-on support.
We believe that an inclusive community is a resilient community and the more that we are able to safely engage with our community the stronger and more secure our Members will be as the community support equity and diversity for differently abled persons.
be a community leader - become a "friend of the center"
We are fortunate to be located near downtown Roanoke, TX - the Unique Dining Capitol of North Texas! The local businesses, restaurants and shops along Oak Street have been super supportive of our growth and welcome our Members into their place of business. This is a true sign of leadership, diversity, equity and inclusiveness and we could not be more grateful as community engagement is such an important part of our mission. We welcome an invite our community partners, leaders and businesses to become a "Friend of The Center" and join us as advocates for Special Needs.
By being a "Friend of The Center" you are publicly supporting The Center. You declare that you welcome and advocate for those with special needs at your place of business and you participate in our community fundraising and partnership activities.
We extend our community partners co-marketing material and join in efforts for fundraising events. We can always use more "Friends" so please join us to make sure our community remains inclusive, diverse, equitable and engaged in advocating for those with special needs.
Learning at The Center is an important part of our mission and we strive to provide an environment that supports continued learning and education for all of our Members.
Our Members are soon to graduate or have recently graduated from High School. Despite no longer being in the school setting they seek and enjoy participating in daily educational activities at The Center. We focus on activities that are relevant to current events, topics of interest or those that are more engaging for the group.
These range from learning about historic persons of interest, national holidays, and cultural traditions as well as fun science experiments! Some of the favorites are those that involve making volcanoes out of baking soda, learning about local bird life, and making bird feeders as well as plant biology and learning how to participate in keeping our garden growing.
Educational topics are peppered throughout our day and integrated within our activities, the focus is to personalize activities that are within the skills set of our members while also pushing to expand their knowledge and interest.
We have several different types of adaptive learning equipment devices to support Members with sight or sensory impairment as well as adaptive iPads to assist with learning activities including a TobiiDynavox that supports eye gazing to facilitate those who are non-verbal.
how we adapt learning activities
We are fortunate at The Center to have passionate and patient direct Care Coaches that work with our Members to facilitate daily learning. Each morning we start our day with a morning set of activities that each Members participates in. Some may require more prompts than others but we work with each Member to choose the "Day of the Week", "Weather" and set the schedule with picture icons. These help visually identify the order of activities and a way for our non-verbal Members to communicate an understanding and plan for the day.
Our adaptive communication equipment is used to facilitate activities throughout the day but specifically related to education our TobiiDynavox is pre-programmed with a myriad of educational programs to promote continued learning. This device is used 1:1 and supports touch or eye-gazing to select options and communicates the chosen responses by verbally repeating the selection.
For our Members with visual impairments we have several sensory and "switch" boards that facilitate self agency to choose preferences, communicate and participate in learning activities that otherwise would be limited to those without limitations.
We try our best to accommodate needs and facilitate continued learning. Our team is always eager to learn new techniques and ways to engage with our Members in creative and fun ways to promote growth.
Are you a special needs teacher?
We are always looking for new educational activities, ideas and to gain skills on how we can best instruct our Members to create an engaging learning environment. If you have skills or ideas to help us grow we are seeking volunteers and also have a Clinical Expert and Advisory Committee if you would like a more formal role in building our educational programming.
Please contact us to learn more at firstname.lastname@example.org