A Week of Recognition: Celebrating DSPs

This week marks Direct Support Professional Recognition Week. It’s an opportunity to thank and celebrate these essential workers who do so much for our community. These caring, compassionate, innovative, and resilient folks make it possible for the disability services field to serve its clients. Moreover, DSPs have continued to support their individuals throughout the coronavirus pandemic, going above and beyond during a time of fear, uncertainty, and instability.

Direct support professionals (DSPs) are dedicated, hard-working, and compassionate staff who make up the backbone of disability services. Every day, DSPs work alongside individuals – assisting them, caring for them, supporting them, and helping them realize their fullest potential.

DSPs on the Daily

DSPs work closely with intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals to help them integrate within their community, advance their personal goals, and advocate for themselves. Although DSPs were once trained exclusively as caregivers, the role has since transformed into an assistive position. Rather than doing things for their clients, DSPs facilitate independence, encouraging and teaching individuals to become self-sufficient.

The roles of a DSP are highly varied: people working in this field perform the functions of administrators, service coordinators, managers, clinicians, and maintenance, and clerical personnel. A DSP can be a residential care staffer, habilitation specialist, job coach, dietician/nutritionist, family support services coordinator, or a community companion.

In essence, DSPs do it all, and to do so, they have to meet the high standards of their chosen industry. DSPs are thoroughly trained in various methods and are accountable to a strict code of ethics and comprehensive core competencies.

Thousands of Americans with intellectual and developmental disabilities rely on the daily services provided by DSPs. These professionals assist with all kinds of tasks, from personal care and maintenance to household chores. They also provide education and employment opportunities.

Looking Beyond the Job Title

A DSP is so much more than their job title. They are beloved members of the community and of the family. While their job can be challenging, DSPs enter this field because they care about the wellbeing and advancement of the individuals they serve. It is their responsibility, but more importantly, it is their passion to serve the disability community, and for that, we owe them a debt of gratitude.

DSPs continue to provide an invaluable service—not just as skilled professionals but as human beings. That’s why ANCOR, the American Network of Community Options and Resources, is helping to highlight DSPs across the nation.

ANCOR has compiled a list of ideas and resources to recognize DSPs during DSP Recognition Week. While the week-long celebration officially runs from September 12th-18th, we believe these hometown heroes should be honored all year round.

At the Independent Living Association, every week is DSP Recognition Week: our incredible team is dedicated to empowering our I/DD Individuals, and we’re proud to return the favor. A big thank you to our outstanding DSPs for the exemplary care and support that they provide each day!