The importance of DSPs

The Importance of DSPs

September 12- 18 is Direct Support Professional (DSP) recognition week and here at Richcroft, we can’t thank our own DSPs enough. They are the backbone of our organization and are the reason why so many of the individuals we support still have a smile on their faces, despite the ongoing variants of the pandemic.

Direct Support Professionals are individuals who support those with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities live a normal life. This can sometimes involve helping with daily tasks and activities, as well as guiding them through community-based pursuits, in order to feel included and integrated within their environment. A DSP can also act as the voice of the individual they support, if communicating proves to be too difficult and they don’t have the means to express their needs. DSPs not only build a rapport with their individuals, but also a genuine friendship. And the relationship can go both ways. Monique Graham who started work as a DSP when she was 18 years old describes the following about the individuals she supports, “They’ve taught me a lot. For example, I’m not good at technology but you can learn so much from these individuals. And one person even taught me how to find out online about different health conditions- I had no idea about all that before!”

Our DSPs here at Richcroft are a part of our Personal Supports Services and are an integral and invaluable part of our organization. Not only do they provide customized services to the individuals they support, but they also assist these individuals in making independent decisions about their future. DSPs can also help those they support to develop interests that may be outside of their natural comfort zones, such as the benefits of nutrition, how to build relationships, and the importance of overall health.

Being a Direct Support Professional may not seem like an obvious career choice for many, but as our staff has shown, the rewards outweigh the challenges. Helping individuals retain their independence and feel human again is what sets DSPs apart from other service professionals, as so much of what they do is about empowerment. Monique adds to that by explaining, “I like the energy they (the individuals she supports) put out there- they’ve gone through so much but they still have a smile on their face. That’s amazing- I love what I do.”

Patience has always been a trait that all our DSPs share, despite the obstacles that come with assisting many individuals with a diverse set of needs. This has been doubly difficult during the pandemic where all forms of socializing went out the window as health and safety became paramount. DSPs had to think on their feet, put on their masks, and think of innovative ways in which to make their individuals feel as comfortable as possible while following government safety guidelines and respecting the individual’s specific wants and needs. Alleviating that sense of involuntary isolation was very important and our DSPs went above and beyond- something that was recognized by the Maryland Department of Health’s Developmental Disabilities Administration as they stated “As Direct Support Professionals on the front lines, these dedicated heroes are the key difference between community participation and isolation for those with disabilities.”

Monique says she loves what she does because she enjoys helping others. While being a DSP certainly can be an unconventional career, it is certainly an enriching one because you are genuinely making a difference in the lives of the people you assist. While patience may not be a trait that everyone possesses if you feel that you’d like the opportunity to grow, develop and even make an impact on a stranger’s life, reach out to us at Richcroft to find out more. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll learn patience, we can certainly guarantee that you’ll make a meaningful connection with an individual who will appreciate you as much as you’ll learn to appreciate them in return.