INARF is dedicating this DSP Special Edition of ON-LINE to DSPs across the state in appreciation for the wonderful work they do. Read more for a wrap up of the 2014 DSPIN conference, how to nominate your DSPs for awards, and what some INARF members did to thank DSPs within their organization.
On September 19th, Board Members of the Indiana Chapter of Direct Support Professionals gathered with excited anticipation to welcome 184 of their fellow DSPs for the 2014 DSPIN Conference. These numbers represent an increase of 23% over the 2013 event, and a validation that Dr. Tom Pomeranz was an ideal selection for the program. “Tom”, as he prefers to be called, stood alongside DSPIN Board members welcoming attendees sharing handshakes and hugs with old and new friends.
The DSPIN Board would like to thank the member organizations who invested in the staff by allowing them to attend and an even bigger thank you to the attendees who entrusted someone else to cover their shift and provide the personal touch to those they support.
Tom Pomeranz has a passion for Direct Support Professionals, as his presentations at the 2014 DSPIN Annual Conference clearly illustrated. As the people whose work places them closest to individuals with disabilities, he feels that DSPs have a responsibility to lead, in both advocacy and in improving the lives of those we serve. The need for leaders is even more critical now as models of support change.
“There are seismic changes happening,” said Pomeranz, “You must lead the way.”
The second half of the conference opened with a candid discussion about community-based services, and that even the best attempts to “integrate” fall short. Dr. Pomeranz stated that this is because participation, not simply integration, should be the goal. The best techniques for supporting individuals with disabilities come from life. He encouraged all in attendance to gauge their interactions with those they serve by asking a single question: “Is it good enough for me?”
Dr. Pomeranz concluded the conference by describing what he feels the job of a Direct Support Professional entails:
Listen to Console
Celebrate to Motivate
According to Pomeranz, these responsibilities do not come from job descriptions or Medicaid. They come from DSPs themselves.
Through the Eyes of Varying Stakeholders
The 2014 DSPIN Conference did not slow down, even during lunch, as Indiana leaders gathered on a panel to honor DSPs and to share their perspective on the important work that they do. The panel consisted of Melody Cooper, President, Self-Advocates of Indiana; John Dickerson, Executive Director, The Arc of Indiana; Nicole Norvell, Director, Division of Disability and Rehabilitative Services; and Kim Opsahl, President & CEO, INARF. Each panelist spoke about their professional and personal experiences with direct support. Although the stories were different, the message from all was very clear: DSPs are crucial to quality care and services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. As the people that are closest to the individuals we serve, direct support is where goals are met, relationships are built, and change occurs. All panelists expressed their gratitude for the service that DSPs provide and encouraged them to apply the lessons shared in Dr. Pomeranz’s presentations on being Agents of Change for the individuals they serve.