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What Is a Direct Support Professional and How to Become One

Direct Support Professional

What Is a Direct Support Professional?

Direct support professionals (DSPs) provide non-medical care and services to intellectually or physically disabled persons. These services may be in the patient's home, at assisted living facilities, or in government institutions. The primary duties of DSPs are to help the patient with everyday tasks, such as taking medication, providing transportation to doctor's appointments, and running errands. DSPs also aim to teach patients life skills, including light housework and meal preparation, to enable them to be a little more independent.

How to Become a Direct Support Professional

There are no formal education requirements to become a direct support professional (DSP), though some training is needed. Many direct support professional jobs require a CPR certification and background check and provide on-the-job training. Other positions require completion of a caregiver training program. Training programs, such as those offered by the Red Cross and local hospitals, can be helpful and give you an edge when seeking employment. In these programs, you study the basics of home-based care to gain the skills and qualifications you need to fulfill your responsibilities in this career. To increase your job opportunities, obtain certification through the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).

Direct Support Professional Job Description Sample

With this Direct Support Professional job description sample, you can get a good idea of what employers are looking for when hiring for this position. Remember, every employer is different and each will have unique qualifications when they hire for a Direct Support Professional role.

Job Summary

We are looking for a responsible, caring, and compassionate direct support professional (DSP) to join our growing team. The ideal job candidate will be highly dependable and have a passion for helping those with physical and/or mental disabilities live a more fulfilled and happy life. Working one-on-one with each client, you will assess his/her needs and tend to them accordingly with the goal of fostering a positive, encouraging environment.

Duties and Responsibilities

  • Be a personal companion to clients and act as a supportive friend serving their needs and working to build their independence
  • Encourage and foster individuals' preferred hobbies and interests
  • Assist with and work to strengthen the individuals' many daily living needs, including but not limited to: nutrition, hygiene, exercise, communication, and socialization skills
  • Help individuals to bathe, groom and dress, eat and drink if necessary, always working to improve self-reliance
  • Create daily schedules and plans for clients
  • Help set individual goals and track client progress, noting any drastic changes; report findings to superiors
  • Make phone calls and drive clients to appointments, meetings, events, etc.
  • Encourage individual skill development and work towards community integration
  • Develop meaningful relationships and connections with clients to make them feel cared for and included in the community
  • Follow all health and safety protocol
  • Help clean and tidy home for the individuals
  • Attend continuing education courses, training and get further certified as the job requires
  • Be a compassionate, patient and encouraging support professional at all times

Requirements and Qualifications

  • Minimum high school diploma or GED equivalent
  • Valid driver's license
  • CPR certification
  • Pass state background check (dependent on state requirements)
  • Comfortable working independently and can consistently make good judgments that benefit the client
  • Flexible, with a keen ability to handle stress well
  • Friendly disposition with a positive ‘can-do' attitude
  • Computer literate and technologically savvy
  • Experience tracking and recording information
  • Enjoy working with developmentally disabled individuals to improve their quality of life
  • Can quickly manage stressful situations responsibly and effectively
  • Strong interpersonal skills and passionate about helping those in need
  • Ability to move and stand for prolonged periods and frequently perform physically demanding tasks