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!