Celebrating Direct Support Professionals
Celebrating the important work of direct support professionals
Earlier this month, we celebrated National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week, honoring the work of all Direct Support Professionals (DSP). Being a DSP is a challenging job, but also a rewarding one, caring for individuals with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities to ensure they are living fulfilling and healthy lives.
A DSP can provide support to individuals in a variety of places, such as at home, school, and other community environments. Support by a DSP can include assistance with daily tasks like eating and nutrition, administering medications, and addressing transportation needs. A DSP also works on behalf of the individuals that they support, helping to communicate their needs and advocating for self expression. In the U.S. we have an estimated 77,000 people employed as DSPs.
At RMHS we work with many local host home providers who provide direct support to individuals by hosting them in their home to ensure their needs are met 24/7. Often their job can blend the personal with the professional, inviting individuals into their home and providing them with the care they need, while also raising their own families.
Host home providers may find themselves being the main advocate for the people they support, taking them to medical appointments and ensuring they are receiving the correct care. In many cases, clients living in a host home are medically fragile, immobile or non-verbal, requiring consistent care to ensure they are okay and healthy.
For those clients who are nonverbal, host home providers and other DSPs create a system of understanding by building and fortifying strong relationships, proactively anticipating a variety of needs. It can be difficult to know if a person who is unable to speak with words is in pain or needs something, so their host home providers take great care to listen and identify the signs that something might be wrong or needed.
To be successful, many host home providers have found it essential to welcome people into their home as family, providing care with love and authentic compassion for the individuals they support.
Even though Direct Support Professionals week is once per year, the work that they do impacts lives all year long. Let's take a moment to celebrate them and the tremendous work that they do for our community!
RMHS DSP Spotlights
In honor of Direct Support Professionals Week, we would like to put a spotlight on two DSP's in the RMHS community: Life Skills Specialist John Mallon and Licensed Practical Nurse Royce Paglomutan.
John Mallon - Life Skills Specialist
How long have you been with RMHS?
I have been working in direct support for a year and a half.
Can you describe an average day in your work?
An average day includes running errands with clients, including cashing checks at the bank or getting groceries. My day also involves taking clients to one, sometimes many, doctors’ appointments. As well, an average day can include an activity such as Horseback Riding or a Rockies game.
What made you interested in becoming a DSP?
I became interested in this type of work after taking care of my two younger cousins with Autism. They inspire me and have taught me about the joy of helping others.
Royce Paglomutan - Licensed Practical Nurse
How long have you been a direct support professional?
I got my nursing license in 2011. My first job was with a company that ran several group homes for individuals with specials needs that also required 24 hour nursing care. It’s odd realizing I’ve been a nurse for 11 years now.
What does an average day look like for you in your role?
On an average weekday shift I will pick the customer up at his day program in the afternoon and bring him back to his residence. Care continues there and is customized to the customer’s medical needs, but includes meal prep, monitoring and managing blood glucose levels with nursing interventions and administering insulin. Care continues until the overnight shift nurse arrives to take over care. Every week the customer has one day with no day program. On those days, care starts at 9am and continues until the customer’s mother takes over at 7pm. On those days, care will also include taking the customer on a desired outing and accompanying him to an appointment if one is scheduled. Then there are also the weekends. Saturday care starts at 9am and continues until the overnight nurse takes over. Saturdays normally include a fun activity chosen by the customer, like a visit to a museum or the zoo. I work every Saturday. If I have to work a Sunday then care starts at 1pm and continues until the overnight nurse takes over.
What interested you in this type of work, and why does it resonate with you?
I actually just fell into this type of work. To be blunt, my interest in this type of work was my interest in finding employment after getting my nursing license. The company I got my first nursing job with was one of the few that took new graduates. The vocational school I went to sent us there for one of our clinical rotations and we were flat out told they often hired new grads from our school. So I started there and just kind of stuck with it, caring for DD individuals requiring nursing care. And while working I met some patients/customers and families that astounded me with their resilience and heart. This has kept me in this branch of nursing.
Learn more about Rocky Mountain Human Services here.