Frontline Initiative Code of Ethics
More than just a paycheck:
How the Code has impacted my personal, professional, and community life
When I first read the Code of Ethics from the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP), I had a warm physical reaction and a smile grew from the inside out. The Code of Ethics describes what being a Direct Support Professional (DSP) truly means — they get it! The Code encompasses all the responsibilities and values of the work we do.
I have had the privilege to work as a DSP for over twenty years. This has been important work for me and has inspired and taught me to be a more accepting and forgiving person. I have become more aware of bias and judgments from witnessing judgments people have made about me, the work I do, and the people I have supported. Every day I have an opportunity to learn how to be a better advocate and educate others about people with disabilities. For example, I apply the Code of Ethics to the interactions I have with the people I support. I make sure I speak to people and not at people. I am purposeful about the day being about their goals, needs, and desires, and not my own. I apply the principles simply by remembering to treat the person I am supporting with respect and dignity in every situation and encourage his or her growth and happiness.
It can be difficult to come out of the caretaking role and remember we are helping the people we support live self-directed lives. It is important that we advocate for their needs and wants and encourage them to build their own relationships. It is not about us as DSPs; it is about them and how they want to be engaged with their lives, the community around them and the relationships they choose to build and develop. It has become my desire and passion to help others see the people I am supporting as whole people, not just their disabilities.
I have learned the importance of being connected with one’s own community. For example, one of the people I have supported, Ray, wanted to volunteer with the elderly. As Ray and I connected with the elders in the community, Ray learned how to advocate for himself, build new friendships, and develop valuable social skills. Supporting Ray and helping him connect with elders in the community was a rich experience for me. I most enjoyed experiencing community members seeing Ray for himself and not his disability.
As a DSP committed to the Code of Ethics, I receive much more than my weekly paycheck. I am engaged in work that is enriching, rewarding, and life-changing. Living by the Code of Ethics has positively impacted how I interact with others in my personal, professional and community life. How cool is that?