Direct Support Professionals: Their Point of View
Direct Support Professionals:
Their Point of View
Author, 1st Choice Family Services
Have you heard much about a career as a direct support professional? They are most often referred to as DSPs. Most people have not heard of the job title. Maybe you are used to hearing about home health aides and caregivers who attend to the elderly and you may also know about childcare and other home care services. Similar to those positions, DSP work is about caring and assisting people but DSPs focus on care for those with developmental disabilities. They specialize in providing these individuals with personalized care to help them improve their quality of life. If you are looking for a job that is rewarding and can provide financial stability, becoming a DSP is a good choice.
“The Guys Just Hanging Out”
It would be incorrect to think that DSP work is easy or to believe it is a job for everyone. Becoming a DSP requires hard work, patience, understanding, sacrifice, commitment, and lots of love. DSPs face many challenges, but what many times keeps them going is seeing the individuals they serve have a better quality of life. Some examples of DSP’s daily tasks include helping clients with their laundry, cleaning, cooking, and gardening at their homes. DSPs also must ensure that medications are administered at the correct time, meals are prepped properly, and hygiene and sleeping schedules are followed. In addition, DSPs also spend time with their clients watching TV, listening to music, and integrating as much as possible into the community through outings and activities.
Although these sound like easy tasks, the impact they provide is something that cannot be measured. Most DSPs consider this job to be a favorite because of the overall satisfaction it brings.
Becoming a Direct Support Professional
25 year old Khari Golden, of Columbus, Ohio is an example of a dedicated and passionate direct support professional. He has been working for 1st Choice Family Services for almost two years. Something he calls “…the best years of my life.” Khari first worked in the childcare field for four years until a friend, who also worked in childcare, became a DSP and encouraged him to dive into a new adventure as a direct support professional.
“My whole outlook on the situation changed. I was definitely nervous, I was nervous for sure. I didn’t know what I was going to do, or how to do it,” Khari said at first.
It did not take him long to find out he’s a natural when it comes to caring for people. He knew he had it in him, but he was also grateful to be in a company that gave him exceptional training and great instructors.
“It turned out to be way better that I had ever expected. My outlook on the whole situation changed,” he added.
His experiences in childcare made it a lot easier for him to get settled with the job since the nature of both jobs is similar. “DSP work is just like working with kids, it’s just that they are not only kids but can be adults, middle-aged or older people as well. It’s almost the same thing just two different mindsets,” Khari shared.
Above all, it was Khari’s heart to care for people that gave him the edge to be a perfect fit for this job. He shared that he grew up in a foster home, not as a foster child, but his parents fostered other children. He has seen troubled and misguided kids and he knew for sure that these kids needed structure and mentoring. Khari also proudly shared how his dad did not make him feel jealous of the other kids, and how the good that they were doing in the foster home sculpted the good he has within him. “It just made me love to care more, and it made it easier to care. It never made me resentful and jealous. I just want to make a difference,” Khari said.
At this writing, Khari spends time with his two clients in Ashland, Ohio. He just celebrated his first anniversary in Ashland in July, 2020 and absolutely loves what he does. 1st Choice arranged exceptional living quarters for Khari to be able to spend time with the clients he assists each day.
“The two people I work with have been here together for five years. They get along very well, and sometimes they have their arguments, but it’s not like a highly aggressive argument. I understand when something is going on and when I need to go figure out the situation or the problem,” Khari shared proudly.
Every morning at 8 a.m., Khari gets up and prepares breakfast, eats with the clients, and gives them their prescribed medications. For the rest of the day, they just hang out, watch movies, eat, do some household duties, activities, and listen to music. Additionally, Khari sees to it that they learn new things, even some basic tasks. As a well-trained DSP, Khari also ensures the safety and a better quality of life for his clients. That is one of the reasons his job is so fulfilling.
Khari juggles all the daily tasks for both of his clients and chooses to work 16 hours a day, technically 24 hours, including the overnights, without much time-off.
“One [client] works from 8 AM until 3 PM, and then the other one starts to get ready for work at 3 PM, so it’s kind of a split shift. I am basically one-on-one with them all day during that time. By 9 o’clock, one is in bed sleeping, and another one is getting home to shower and go to sleep,” says Khari.
All in all, becoming a DSP means becoming a part of each client’s life. They become your family. Even without knowing it, they become one of the reasons you smile.
“I give them a hug. And then the other guy [client], he’s like a business type of guy. He just writes and he use a lot of paper and it’s like he’s at work. He stacks papers and he likes filing paperwork. It’s really funny. Every day I laugh about something that they are doing,” Khari joyfully shared.
With all the time a DSP spends with their clients, something special is developed between them. Some clients know how to prepare their own meals or live day to day and are highly functional. No two individuals are the same. As a DSP, knowing that you are a vital piece of their daily improvements makes the job feel like something more than just a job.
“I still can’t believe it, I brag about my job every day. I really think people can benefit by just seeing their side of the world. People just don’t know sometimes,” Khari stated. He genuinely believes that becoming a DSP with 1st Choice Family Services is something people should consider.