Recruiting, Selecting, and Retaining Direct Service Workers to Provide Self-Directed HCBS


1. Listen

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Two people walking down a city street.

2. Read

Boundaries are expectations for behavior that help maintain a professional relationship with your DSWs. For example, this would include not lending money to, or borrowing money from, your DSW. Professional boundaries also include the need for DSWs to respect your privacy, to show up to work when scheduled, and to perform tasks as directed.

DSWs work in people’s homes and provide personal supports. This can blur professional boundaries. You and your DSW need to agree on the boundaries and stick to them.

Consider looking back at the Skills Questionnaire you completed in Module 2, Lesson 2.1 and the Realistic Job Preview you completed in Module 3, Lesson 3.1. These lists described the tasks you needed assistance with and were shared with the DSW before they were hired.

3. Reflect

What do you think?

Mariah has been working for Bea for 6 months.  They get along well.  Mariah is having some problems at home.  She and her husband are getting a divorce.  When Mariah first mentioned the divorce, Bea was sympathetic and listened.  Mariah has been sharing more personal details about her marriage, and Bea is feeling uncomfortable.  What should Bea do?

Bea, like most of us, wants to be kind and understanding.  If we let  boundaries with DSWs get blurred, it can be harder to take on the role of supervisor when we need to coach DSWs.  It's important to remember that DSWs are being paid for a service and it is a professional relationship.  

Bea is worried that if Mariah starts to think of her as a good friend, it will be harder to take on the role of supervisor if she needs to coach Mariah to improve her performance. She is concerned about Mariah's well-being and she wonders if Mariah has anyone in her personal life she can talk to.  Bea decides that in order to reestablish professional boundaries with Mariah, she will let her know about a low-cost community counseling center where she might be able to talk about her challenges with a professional.