Tags Posts tagged with "Direct Support Professional"

Direct Support Professional

Source: York Dispatch, Oct. 13, 2021

Pennsylvania’s legislators and governor should be ashamed of themselves. They are not taking care of the people of this state, and it doesn’t seem to bother anyone in the legislature unless it affects them directly.

My children are the most important people in the world to me. My only daughter, Kate, has an intellectual disability and is nonverbal. She sometimes wanders at night. She is at risk for falls. She doesn’t understand ‘stranger danger,’ and she must have help for all her personal care. This means someone has to monitor her activity 24/7. And she can’t be “dropped off at some program” (which is what a legislator once suggested to me), because there simply aren’t enough staff for those programs.

You might ask why we don’t just hire a direct support professional (DSP). Well, there aren’t any to hire. Every week, I call providers. Every week, I’m told “we don’t have staff.” And the reason there isn’t enough staff is that the state does not allocate enough funding to provide the same hourly wage for providers that Pennsylvania pays its own DSPs. Equal pay for equal work is just lip service in Pennsylvania.

The system is broken and it’s just getting worse. I know it’s because government has created this problem, and that makes me angry. We should be progressing. Instead, the system is barely surviving, and that’s the same for my beloved daughter.

So I am Kate’s staff. I am her DSP. I took money out of my retirement fund — paying a stiff tax penalty as a result — so I could give up my career to care for my daughter. That’s what moms do. We care for our children.

I work two part-time jobs, relying on family members and friends occasionally to help with Kate, but a full-time, trained DSP is what she needs. My 88-year-old mom needs my support, too, since we lost my dad during the last year. But I cannot provide that support because Kate depends on me.

What’s really bad is that Kate qualifies for more than 65 hours of support per week. That help would allow me to work full-time again and have the energy and financial means to care for Kate in the hours there aren’t any DSPs available. And there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight.

Kate’s moved from provider to provider, but when COVID hit she began regressing terribly because we could not find anyone to work with her. There is a chance we could put Kate in a group home, but even thinking about that option kills my soul. She’s my daughter — just like anyone else’s daughter — and like every parent reading this, I just want the best for my daughter. Some people need more care than others, and Kate’s one of those who needs more.

Every “fix” we have had is temporary. The only real way to fix this problem is for providers to hire more DSPs. But they can’t, because the state simply doesn’t provide the funds for them to do so. What’s worse, Pennsylvania pays its own DSPs (in its state centers, aka institutions) significantly more. That’s in direct conflict with the “equal pay for equal work” principle that Pennsylvania says is so important here.

I won’t give up. I was raised to keep fighting for the people I love. And politicians need to realize that people like Kate and I can vote. It’s shameful that they are not doing their jobs, fulfilling their duties, for people like my Kate. There’s way too much self-serving going on. Legislators push for $15 minimum wage for the average Pennsylvanian, but they pay DSPs significantly less. That’s what we’re dealing with. And sons and daughters are bearing the brunt of those decisions. My daughter is bearing the brunt of them.

Do I sound angry? Well, I am. I’m frustrated, disheartened, disillusioned, and appalled. This is a juggernaut for parents.

Thousands of Pennsylvanians are waiting for services as I type this. They are sons and daughters whose parents love them and want them to live a fulfilling life. They are like my Kate. They deserve to be cared for. And I’ll keep fighting for my daughter … for all these sons and daughters. Because that’s what moms do.

— Sandi Shaffer is the mom of Kate and is a 2017 graduate of The Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh. She is an advocate and task member of The PA Family Task Force, a statewide advocacy taskforce on behalf of families with children and adults with disabilities. Sandi has advocated for Kate and others in the intellectual disability/autism community for more than two decades. She and Kate live in Westmoreland County.

Message from ANCOR:

It’s Direct Support Professional Recognition Week! Your celebrations of the DSPs at the heart of our field are part of a nationwide party we throw every year to showcase the amazing and often unsung work of these incredible professionals, and mark just a small fraction of the recognition that they deserve throughout the year.

Please make sure you’re using #DSPRW2021 and tagging @TheRealANCOR on Facebook and Twitter so we can see and share your celebrations! Also, you can send photos and descriptions of celebrations to André Floyd so that they can be shared on our social media channels directly and highlighted in next Friday’s Weekly Update.

All week long, use our DSP Recognition Week Toolkit to access images, state DSP Proclamations, sample social media messages and more that enable you to spread the word among your networks. Also be on the lookout later in the week for the opening of nominations for our 2022 Direct Support Professional of the Year Awards. Stay tuned for more details!

This is one of our favorite times of year, and we cannot wait to celebrate with you and see all of your celebrations! Thank you for leveraging this week to express your gratitude for the essential work our DSPs do, day in and day out, to support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We couldn’t do what we do without them!

Thank you DSPs!

We want to remind you all that September 13–17, 2021 is Direct Support Professional Appreciation Week. Governor Wolf has once again signed a Proclamation to recognize the important role that staff play in service provision.

We would also like to share some ideas from your colleagues that they are planning for their employees in case you are trying to come up with recognition ideas!

  • Gifts to the DSPs, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, backpacks filled with goodies (journal, pens, snacks, PPE), and gift cards to grocery stores;
  • Pizza party at each site, bagels and coffee, dinner delivered to each home one night, and/or ice cream cakes; and
  • Personal visits at each site, handwritten thank you notes, and bonuses.

Whatever you decide to do to celebrate your staff, please feel free to share any photos or news stories with RCPA so that we can share them on our social media as well. We are happy to do anything to help promote the good publicity and recognition!

August 11, 2021 from 1:30 pm–3:00 pm ET

This training will explore the Direct Support Professional’s (DSP) experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through information gathered through the National Core Indicators (NCI) Staff Stability Survey, the presentation will highlight current research on the DSP workforce gathered before and during the pandemic. Information will be presented regarding the DSP workforce nationally and its growth and importance to those needing long-term services and supports. Results from two national surveys conducted with DSPs during the pandemic will be shared, reflecting the impacts the pandemic has had on individual DSPs. Finally, the training will share the personal stories of six DSPs as they navigated the pandemic.

Following the presentation, webinar participants will have the opportunity to take part in a question and answer session, receiving feedback from CMS and the presenters.

Register here. Contact HCBS-Learning with any questions.