Direct Support Professional (DSP) Week is Sept. 91-15. Community Connections Inc. in Winner employs 67 persons with 54 positions being in direct support professional.
DSPs ensure people with disabilities have the necessary supports that enable them to live, work and enjoy live as independently as possible in their community. DSPs can work in a number of different settings and often have opportunities to share their own passion and talents with the people they support.
The direct support workforce is made up of 3.6 million workers in the United States. The demand for direct support workers is expected to increase by 35 percent from 2008 to 2018.
DSPs assist people receiving community human services in a wide range of activities such as meeting personal needs, making friends, finding a job, understanding rights and making choices, taking medications, learning new skills and facilitating connections to the people, resources and experiences necessary to live full and safely in communities of their choice.
South Dakota’s network of Intellectual and Developmental Disability (I/DD) non profit service providers reach every corner of the state and provide services to approximately 4,360 South Dakotans with I/DD and employ approximately 3,491 people.
DSPs have highly specialized and important jobs in the support of people with I/DD. The DSP position is the backbone of the Intellectual and Development Disability services. DSPs require extensive training in behavioral intervention, medication administration, crisis intervention, communication and person centered supports. DSPs routinely make sound judgments regarding behavioral health and general safety. DSPs have to meet increasingly complex regulatory requirements.
Melony Bertram, executive director of CCI, says the career is rewarding because DSPs help the people they serve learn new skills and reach life goals. On a daily basis, DSPs help individuals with tasks most other people take for granted. Tasks like cooking, cleaning, showering, toileting, leaving the house, shopping and managing money take a little more effort for individuals with IDD. DSPs assist with tasks individuals cannot do for themselves and teach tasks individuals can learn to do themselves. Both the individual and DSP feel a great sense of accomplishment when the individual learns to complete a new task.
“Without DSP’s our business would be obsolete. Direct Support Professionals are the heart and soul of the what we do,” said Bertram.