The Direct Support Professional: a Purpose Filled Role

Did you know that September 11th-15th is Direct Support Professionals Recognition Week? What better time than now to talk about the value and contributions of Direct Support Professionals, a role that embodies the concept of purpose! Dorothea, is our longest serving Employment Direct Support Professional!

For anyone not clear about the fundamental role of a Direct Support Professional (DSP) let me give a brief description. A DSP assists individuals with developmental/intellectual disabilities in all activities to support them living full and valued lives. These activities may include bathing, working, recreational, or spiritual activities. The DSP supports individuals with family and romantic relationships; with making friends and building strong relationships with co-workers. A DSP’s role is fully dedicated to an individual meeting basic needs that are essential to health and happiness and to carrying out their dreams. Close and trusted relationships are built between the DSP and the individual they support, thereby allowing the individual to live their own purpose-filled life with community, family, in work, and service. These daily contributions made by the DSP are immeasurable.

For many of us, work is one of the primary places that we spend our time. Did you know a few years ago, only 27% of the US workforce defined their work as purpose oriented and contributing to society? (study done by Imperative, Purpose Workforce Index found at Many people in our society walk through life in a haze. They lack a sense of purpose; lack excitement about their work and feel disconnected from the world. In human service work, we are inherently fortunate that it embodies a high sense of care about the world. Each of us at SA supports individuals, either directly or indirectly, in carrying out his/her life goals in a meaningful, safe, and independent way. If each of us is ‘on purpose’ with our role, we have the wonderful experience of supporting the purpose of others. What a gift! For any of us to do our work in a lasting way, we must maintain a sense of interest and care and, ideally, a strong sense of excitement.

Having the opportunity to be in relationship with another human being; to support their potential; to help them live out their dreams is amazing. It is also challenging and sadly undervalued in our society. How wonderful would it be if DSPs were recognized for their wonderful work everyday, not just during this week?

This week we are honoring the 366 dedicated team members at SA who are in the roles of:

  • Behavior Intervention Support Specialist and Supervisors
  • Direct Service Professionals & Lead Staff
  • Parent / Supervised Visitor Staff
  • Residential Coordinator
  • Positive Behavior Support Specialist
  • Dialectical Behavior Therapy Facilitator & Mentors
  • Employment Specialist
  • WorkFirst Employment Specialist
  • Community Access Specialist
  • Children’s Intensive In-Home Services Behavior Technician

The stories of our DSP’s are amazing. Our teams come from many walks of life and we value our diversity, whether ethnic, educational, religious, or gender. It is the diversity of our employees that keeps our work purpose driven and weaves the fabric of SA.

26 years ago, I started my career at Service Alternatives working as a DSP. I have wonderful memories of building relationships, teaching new skills, and being challenged to work with difficult behaviors. To this day, I use these experiences to guide my work. It takes many roles within an organization to provide excellent services. Thank you, to our DSP’s at Service Alternatives that represent the heart and soul of what we do.

I hope that each of us takes time to appreciate the DSP’s that are in our lives. For anyone reading this blog that is lacking purpose in their life, I hope this will give you pause to consider meaningful contributions you could be making to the lives of individuals around you. Maybe you might even consider becoming a DSP.

– Belinda




Posted in Newsletter, Uncategorized.