DSP’s Life and Responsibilities

DSP’s Life and Responsibilities

Author, Jordan Ferguson


As an Elite Direct Support Professional (previously known as Direct Care Aide or DCA’s) “you can never get too comfortable.” To explain that statement, when a person in this role slacks off or lose their focus it can become a recipe for disaster. For example, some clients will react to atmospheric and/or weather changes that cause them discomfort and a DSP must be prepared to respond.

The DSP’s role requires an individual to be astutely in tune with their clients, the environment, and the agency’s policies and procedures. It is important for DSPs to be very observant to how clients are functioning during their shift. DSPs need to be alert to “how the client walks, tone in which they speak, and the speed in which they perform various tasks.”

1st Choice Family field day

An experienced DSP is trained to notice the changes in their client’s moods. The DSP and the client will often merge into a trusting partnership. This partnership will allow the DSP to take the client to public gatherings. Thus, scheduled outings are beneficial to the client and staff. Case and point, 1st Choice Family Services held a “Company Field” day on Saturday, June 6th. Most of the agency’s clients and staff attended and appeared to be having an amazing time.

To restate, in this line of work, a DSP can never get too relaxed. With growing into my position and gaining more experience, my focus is at its peak when situations are calm. To share an experience, during a water balloon activity, a client became agitated. It was probably a combination of irritants (e.g., heat, water balloons flying, and climatic conditions), that presented an opportunity for the client to swirl into an undesirable behavior.

As a result, this client was agitated and become overly aggressive with staff and attempted to strike multiple staff and began to hurl racial slurs. In that kind of situation, it is easy to become frustrated and act upon your emotions. However, an elite DSP is able to look at the situation for what it is and act professionally.

1st Choice Family field day.

When clients’ behaviors explode, the right approach is to calm the client and redirect them. It is important to help them place their energies on something other than the current issue. Furthermore, if the client remains in combat mode and presents a threat to their self or someone else, it is necessary to utilize two Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) certified staff members. Also, it will be necessary to apply the hold exactly as stated in the client’s ISP.

Needless to say, the hold was applied until the client calmed down. When the client became calm, staff told the client “We are here to help you, we are not here to hurt you and we cannot allow you to hurt yourself and/or others.” As an elite DSP, when the situation was over, there is no reason to harbor hard feelings against the client.

Water balloon and water gun fun at the 1st Choice Family field day.

At the end of the day, the DSP works to provide care services to their clients regardless of their own feelings. DSPs must remember “it is all about the clients, it is not about staff.” As professionals, it is necessary to offer helpful guidance to each client. The DSP may need to show the client compassion and strength under unwarranted pressure. Last, after the temporary incident at the outing, “it was still an absolute great day for staff and an even better day for the clients!”