A special, “Thank You,” to our Direct Support Professionals
No one really knows. We think we know. We hear the stories, mostly about doctors and nurses in the trenches of the pandemic. But there are hidden heroes among us that are risking their lives in the same way as those in the healthcare setting. Those hidden Heroes are direct support professionals or DSPs. No one really knows or sees the love and care they are giving every day and we want them to know, the staff at the Marion County Board of Developmental Disabilities (MCBDD) – we know. We see them. And we are proud to have them as part of our team.
A DSP works directly with people who have intellectual or developmental disabilities. Their goal is to assist those they support in realizing their full potential and helping them get there. DSPs work hard toward integration and community engagement for those they support.
In the past, DSPs were trained as caregivers. But over the past few decades, the needs of those being served changed which has also morphed the role of a DSP. Now, DSPs take on different aspects and roles than caregiving. It is no longer about doing things for people. It is about helping them learn how to do things for themselves. A huge and necessary shift to help people help themselves.
The requirements to become a DSP? A direct support professional needs to have a high school diploma and a big heart for this career. They are often trained on the job by the provider for whom they choose to work. In Marion County that list contains a little over 50 options. The training can include things like pill administration, transportation, integration, respite care, in-home assistance with cooking, hygiene, finances, and more. Throughout Marion County over 300 DSPs are feverishly working to ensure the safety and welfare of those served by MCBDD.
Sometimes it is a thankless job. The hours are long and sporadic, it is not extremely high-paying, and again, no one really sees the hard work that a DSP does day in and day out for those in our community with developmental disabilities.
Now, adding COVID to the equation has shaped a completely new world once again for direct support professionals. The congregate settings have become smaller, with less ability to integrate into the community. Sanitizing, temperature taking, masks, and social distancing are all now part of their jobs and everyday life.
The County Board is proud to be a vaccination site for the Marion Public Health Department to administer COVID vaccines to those we serve and DSPs. Since the vaccinations started in mid-January, close to 250 DSPs and people served have chosen to receive the vaccine. When asked why, they want to protect themselves, their families, and those they support.
MCBDD just wanted to say, “THANK YOU” to all of the partner providers and their staff who have been silent heroes who have worked endlessly, tirelessly, and selflessly since March of 2020. We see you, and we are proud to have you as an extension of the County Board of DD.
There is currently a shortage of direct support professionals across the state. If you are interested in a career as a direct support professional, the Clearwater Council of Government (COG) can assist you with questions and advise of specific openings in a five-county area. They can be reached at 419-898-8264, then select option three, or email email@example.com. Our partner providers also list openings on their websites and social media platforms. To view a complete list of the providers who are currently serving Marion County residents, visit www.marioncountydd.org/providers. This is a great place to start to seek local agencies who may be hiring (most are).