My most rewarding job thus far has been providing direct supports to adults and children with disabilities. It never felt like work. Supporting children and adults involved such a wide variety of activities that I never got bored of figuring out ways to assist, teach and care for them. I enjoyed every aspect of a DSP’s “work” day, whether exercising at the park with them or helping my clients break down boxes to obtain volunteer hours. Aside from reflecting on great work experiences, here are the top 3 reasons why you should work as a DSP:
There aren’t many jobs that allow you to do more than one thing or go to more than one place each day. If the job title of a DSP was human figure, it would be one of the most flexible or pliable people in the world that can stretch their limbs in any given direction. Working as a DSP is very similar with the ability of choosing with your client different activities to do within community programs. Instead of driving the same route to the same building each day, you can instead drive to the park on a Monday, the gym on a Tuesday or the beach on a Thursday and Friday for as much time as your client and/or employer allows. As long as the main reason for going to the beach is to work on a goal(s) your client is working on, everything else is fair game! For me personally, I find it really hard to think of going to the beach as work or an assignment, but more as a fun, rewarding activity I just so happen to get paid to participate in. Of course, working as a DSP or social worker in general certainly has it’s challenges and I would be lying if I said there were never days I felt like I was driving to “Work”. But most people who make a living in this field I think would agree that the pros of providing direct supports outweigh the cons overall.
Do you remember the first time as a child you had a big smile on your face after you were able to read the first full page of a book without help or after cleaning and transforming your room from a messy disaster to a 5-Star hotel room? I can only imagine how good a feeling that is for adults with disabilities. I can say based on my experience working home supports, seeing that big smile is a great feeling from a DSPs perspective as well. Even though most people would consider that a small accomplishment compared to most in their lifetime, after years of failed attempts, an individual with disabilities may consider the task of tying their shoes a lifelong accomplishment. As long as you’re putting smiles on your client’s face(s), you’re doing your job correctly and continuing to show good reason why institutions were replaced with home supports and more one on one care in a comfortable, clean and safe setting. I’ve never been a live-in care provider, someone who lives in the home with the client(s), but for those who have, I applaud you. I admire any Direct Support Professional willing to give up their free time and the concept of time-off in order to support and provide other people with a better, more fulfilling life and putting a big smile on people’s faces around the clock.
When I first started working as a DSP and providing home supports in 2016, I started at $10 per hour and let’s just say without naming names the company wasn’t the biggest fan of the word raise. I certainly can’t provide any opinion on managing a payroll and running a business in general. However I know that credit should be given where credit is due and I can tell you that all the people I worked with were worth at least $20 per hour for the type of work we all did. On the flipside of the coin, most people that provide Direct Supports I’m sure would agree that they don’t do this job just for the money but for a higher calling and a strong sense of empathy. If you read our blog post on Why I Chose to be a DSP. Paying it Forward, you’ll understand why I decided to choose empathy over a big, juicy lettuce sandwich every other week. In the short term, I knew I wouldn’t be providing direct support for $10 an hour my entire life but I was fine with it since I was just breaking into the field. I knew that if I stayed the course, worked hard, and simply showed up and did my job every day, I would eventually hit paydirt and make a salary I can thrive on, whether that’s in the social work industry or elsewhere. If an employer still refuses to offer you that promotion you worked so hard for or a pay raise that’s respectable, a change of jobs may be in order. Fortunately, the social work industry has so many options of where to work and a constant need and demand of service in most of the United States. Therefore, depending on where you live, it’s usually easier than most industries when finding another employer that’s fair and will provide job growth and pay you what you’re worth.
So if you’re looking for a job change and you’re sick of the office life, consider working as a Direct Support Professional! It may change your life and you would definitely change other people’s lives in a very positive way.
Found and CEO