“Direct Support Professionals are at the heart of Keystone Human Services’ work,” said Greg Wellems, Executive Director of KHS’s Intellectual Disability Services.
As their job title suggests, Direct Support Professionals work directly with the people we serve, providing support for people to live full lives at home, at work, at school, and in the community. The work of a DSP is complex and much more than simply providing care.
Linda Futterer is one such Direct Support Professional, or DSP, who has made a significant difference in someone’s life. She began supporting one man in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic when he, like many people, chose not to leave his home. Linda focused on building a relationship with him and earning his trust. Slowly, he began to feel comfortable going out into the community again.
She spoke with him about his hopes and dreams, and together, along with other members of his team, developed a person-centered plan. Now, he embraces traveling, and has vacationed in Florida and Sanibel Island. Most recently, he and Linda traveled to Atlantic City, New Jersey. Linda has helped him drive his own life.
That is a key part of what Direct Support Professionals do. They recognize barriers to inclusion and advocate alongside people with disability so people can control their own lives and fully access their rights. It’s a partnership, and we are in the midst of a pilot project to support Direct Support Professionals (and all direct support workers) to enhance their skills as advocates for inclusion and inclusive practices. In fact, we are the first human services organization to pilot Inclusion International’s recently launched Listen Include Respect global guidelines for meaningful participation of people with intellectual disability.
“Direct Support Professionals are advocates and partners with the people we support,” said Chuck Sweeder, President-Elect of Keystone Human Services. “Whether supporting people in the community, helping people learn new skills, assisting with the job or hobby, or just having fun, DSPs create opportunities for independence and community involvement. Each time I visit homes, I see the love, patience, and commitment of KHS staff who make a difference every day in the lives of people we support. A heartfelt thank you to all DSPs at Keystone Human Services!”
“The difference Direct Support Professionals and Community Support Professionals make is in the little things, like a smile, a laugh, or a game; and in the big things, like the accomplishment of a new skill, a new job, or the feeling of increased independence,” said Julie Rizzo, Executive Director of Keystone Autism Services. “They pour their heart and soul into changing the lives of others. They’re the foundation of our organization, the key to our success, and so much more.”
September 11-17, 2022 is Direct Support Professional Recognition Week! Thank you to all of our Direct Support Professionals and Community Support Professionals for your innovation, creativity, and advocacy for the people we support! You are living our mission every day, and we appreciate everything you do to make sure each person is living their desired life.