DSPs: Extended family members
We all need people to help support us throughout our lives. Most people have a lot of support systems that are especially important during the formative years. A support system consists of people who know and care about you. Whether family or friends, these people understand your highs and lows. They are there when you need them when you are feeling down. They are also there when you hit your highs and offer good counsel when it’s hard to process events that occur. They are the people who give you honest feedback and reality checks.
Having a support system can help you get through difficult times and help you overcome any challenges. Sometimes being around family can be beneficial. They are important because they can influence decision making, and will call you out on your mistakes. A support system can share joy and pain with you. This makes the hard times easier and the good times more joyful. Your support system should also hold you accountable to high standards and remind you to be true to yourself. Accountability means encouraging you to do the right thing and challenging you if you isolate or pursue poor choices.
Treating them as family
Direct support professionals tend to have a deep bond with their clients. They are not only responsible for their safety, dignity, and health of the individuals who they support, but they also empower them to make informed decisions and communicate with them. They encourage people with disabilities to break out of their comfort zones and grow while providing support and a safety net. They teach individuals that failure, frustration, and disappointment are all part of life.
Finding a support system for people with disabilities should be chosen wisely. Why? The people you are dealing with have bad days – like all of us. If you are going to be their support, you need to prioritize their well-being. See the person, not the disability. Yes, make exceptions, but understand that there are things that limit them. As a direct support professional, you will be the one to help them overcome some things that they couldn’t do previously. You need to make them feel that they are a part of society.
Our direct support professionals are involved with their clients. They are the first people who notice changes in the behavior of their client. With their skills and training, they provide the best support in this field. Imagine always being surrounded by people who support you. It helps you bloom as a person. It helps you feel relaxed and safe. Our clients see DSPs as part of their family. They always make them feel secure.
Getting to know Olivia
Olivia Hammons is one of our direct support professional here at 1st Choice Family Services. Her journey in the company is amazing and the dedication she puts into her work is exemplary. She aspires to become a doctor. She has a passion for helping people and taking care of them. Being a direct support professional is the closest profession to get to her goal of helping people.
Since Olivia is a goal setter, she is currently getting her masters degree in health care administration while working as a direct support professional 80 hours a week. How did she manage her time as a student and as a DSP? She loves what she’s doing, and for her, it doesn’t feel like a job at all.
Q & A with Olivia
Why do you think a career in the direct support field is important?
“We are like their teachers. We are molding these individuals to be their best selves. Who else would do it if there are no direct support professionals?”
What perks do you enjoy working as a direct support professional?
“I just think that this job makes you forget that it is a job because we can hang out with our clients. We can talk to them as a friend. We spend time with them for the whole day – it doesn’t feel like work at all. So, I think that is the ultimate perk.”
Any favorite moment you can share with us with your client that you will never forget?
“After a month of working with one of my clients, one day he threw away a receipt by accident into a big dumpster in his apartment. And he told me: “Olivia, I need to go get it. I have to go dumpster diving. And I told him that he cannot because it is gone. He shouldn’t go in there because there’s a lot of bacteria and he doesn’t want to catch that, and then he’s like “okay”. But then, five minutes later he said: “I’m going to go outside and I don’t want you to come with me.” And I asked him: “Why are you going outside?” And he said: “Don’t worry about it.” As he was getting up, I said: “I’m going to go with you.” He said: Okay, but just to let you know, I am going to go dumpster diving.” And I was like, “I’m going to tell you one last time that you shouldn’t.” He went to look and he told me: “It’s too dirty.” He looks at me, and tells me: “What would I do without you, Olivia?” and I said: “I don’t know, what would I do without you either?” So that was a moment I can’t forget about my client, because no matter what other people might say, at that moment I felt that this client was not just a client but was part of my family. It’s a good thing that my client feels the same way and treats me as a family.”
People who decide to become a direct support professional should have patience. It is probably the biggest thing that you should have as well as having a passion to help people. It’s not just a job where you come for the money. The people we are supporting – they are also human beings. Sometimes we are their only support system, so we are more than just staff to them. And I think, becoming a part of this team, you have to always remember that. -Olivia Hammons