This year Governor Mike Pence recognized the importance of Direct Support Professionals (DSP) in Indiana through his signing of a proclamation declaring September 7-14 Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week. DSPs are the primary providers of supports and services for thousands of individuals throughout Indiana. They provide essential support to help keep Hoosiers with disabilities connected to their families and communities, as well as keep them healthy and safe. DSPs are crucial to the quality care and services for the individuals they support.
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.
2014 DSPIN Conference: Record Attendance
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.
You Must Lead the Way
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 point Dr. Pomeranz was making has very little to do with changes in rules and regulations. He challenged DSPs to be examples that others will follow; to put relationships with the people they serve above all else, and to be positive, passionate advocates during times of change. Per Pomeranz, leaders are capable, competent, and sensitive.
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.
The Critical Role of DSPs:
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.
Columbia City Mayor Proclaims DSP Week
In recognition of the service of Direct Support Professionals (DSP), Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel signed a proclamation making the week of September 7th DSP week. DSPs are the primary providers of publicly funded long term support and services for thousands of individuals in Indiana. Joining the Mayor Daniel during the signing were Jason Meyer, Cheryl Tinsley, Kellie Shidler, Brooke Dear, Jessica Ward, and Lekiesha Smith of Passages, Inc.
Employing over 120 DSPs, INARF member Passages, Inc. is able to serve over 175 individuals with intellectual disabilities. Passages, Inc. is non-profit, which provides quality supports and enables people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities to discover their potential and achieve the quality of life they desire. This goal could not be accomplished without the dedication of DSPs, as they provide essential support to help keep an individual with disabilities connected to their families and the community in which they live.
It has been documented that there is a growing shortage of DSP in Indiana. By recognizing their invaluable contribution to better the lives of Hoosiers with disabilities, it is important that legislators keep the issues causing this at the forefront of their agendas.
New Hope Services, Inc. Thank You Breakfast
A breakfast featuring homemade French Toast was how New Hope Services, Inc. expressed thanks to its Direct Support Professionals (DSP). New Hope managers joined together to cook and thank its staff for all of their hard work. To button off the breakfast, Extra brand gum with a note reading “Thanks for going the extra mile to offer exceptional services to our clients” was also given to staff.
The breakfast was just one of the many ways this non-profit cares for its staff. With such a devoted, heartfelt staff, New Hope has been able to evolve and expand to touch the lives of more than 10,000 people annually for over 50 years. This includes children, special-needs children, adults with intellectual & developmental disabilities or disadvantages, families and senior adults.
To see their vision of a quality life for all in its community, New Hope depends on DSP’s to satisfy the human services needs of people throughout Southern Indiana.
Nominate DSP’s for ANCOR Recognition Award
ANCOR is requesting your nominations for its 2015 Direct Support Professional (DSP) Recognition Awards. ANCOR defines a DSP as “someone who works as a direct care worker, in-home support worker, personal assistant, or attendant that ensures people with disabilities have the necessary supports that enable them to live life more independently, often in a community-based setting.” Organizations may nominate up to three DSPs per state. Not sure how to write your nomination? Click here to see ANCOR’s examples. The deadline for submissions is December 12, 2014.