In September, we take a moment to recognize and appreciate our direct support professionals (DSP). This month we invited all Shelby County DSPs to a family fun event at Vandemark Farms to kick off DSP Appreciation Week. To be completely honest though, we appreciate our Direct Support Professionals on a daily basis. Without them, the work of the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities would grind to a halt.
Direct support professionals, providers, caregivers, companions … you may have heard them called many titles, but for so many people with developmental disabilities they are the most essential workers. DSPs are the people who show up every day and work directly with people with developmental disabilities in their homes, workplaces, or in the community.
DSPs have many roles. Personal care is probably what most people think of when they picture a DSP’s job, but that only scratches the surface. Of course, DSPs may help with personal care tasks like bathing or hygiene, but they may also assist with banking, budgeting, shopping, and scheduling and attending medical appointments. They may help a person with a disability learn new skills like creating a household budget or becoming a better cook. A DSP may also accompany a person on trips, vacations, or other leisure activities.
DSPs are also essential in the workplaces of people with disabilities. Learning a new job or skill at work can be a challenge, but a DSP can be there for support and assistance. This is not only helpful for the person receiving services, but the employer benefits as well!
We are currently in a state-wide crisis due to a lack of DSPs. The Shelby County Board of DD can assist anyone looking to enter this incredibly rewarding career. From helping with the certification process to providing free training and resources, the SCBDD can help. Whether you’re interested in working a set schedule or drop-in hours, we can connect you with the right provider partners or help with independent certification.
For more information on the DSP role, check out our website at www.shelbydd.org or call 937-497-8155 and ask for the provider support coordinator. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/shelbydd.org.
The writer is the superintendent of the Shelby County Board of Developmental Disabilities.