Frontline Initiative: DSPs Respond to COVID-19

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This issue of Frontline Initiative (FI) may have you wondering how to learn more about your work as a direct support professional (DSP). DirectCourse is a series of online training curricula focused on inclusion and community support. You may have access to two of these curricula that are very useful to DSPs and those who aspire to be frontline supervisors (FLS) and leaders. These are the College of Direct Support (CDS) and the College of Frontline Supervision, Management, and Leadership (CFSM). This training can provide you with the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to provide high quality direct support, develop your skills, and work effectively in your organization or community. CDS and CFSM content is accredited by the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) . This content is built from the same competencies and code of ethics used by the NADSP. It can be used to help you learn what you need to know to create great E-badge examples that meet the credit criteria of the NADSP E-Badge Academy (see more below). You can use the DirectCourse: CDS/CFSM & NADSP E-Badge Crosswalk to quickly find which DirectCourse lessons align with each NADSP E-Badge and its related competency.

If you don’t already have access to DirectCourse, you can learn more, request a DirectCourse demonstration, or recommend it to your supervisor or training director. Below is a sample of content available that is especially connected to the focus of this issue of Frontline Initiative.

The College of Direct Support

Direct support professionals (DSPs) still face many challenges while they support people during an ongoing pandemic. Many DSPs and the people they support have to make hard decisions about things like vaccinations or seeking healthcare. Some people are facing the loss of people they care about. Content in the College of Direct Support can teach DSPs useful skills to support others during difficult times. This includes supporting others with making decisions and coping with grief and loss. Some of the lessons below will help DSPs learn how to partner with people they support and their networks in various ways. This can help people manage challenging situations better. Other content teaches vital skills for staying safe and healthy.

Supporting Relationships and Partnerships

Everyone Can Communicate: The Role of the Direct Support Professional as a Communication Partner

DSPs can be important communication partners. They can support people to make informed decisions about issues that affect their lives. This lesson could help learners achieve the NADSP E-Badge for Communication Modes.

Working with Families and Support Networks: Creating Partnerships with Support Network Members

Partnering with support networks can help DSPs manage complex situations better. This lesson helps DSPs learn the skills they need to work effectively with family members and other supporters. This lesson could help learners achieve the NADSP E-Badge for Planning Activities.

Supporting Older Adults: Grieving and End of Life Support

This lesson discusses the stages of grief and how to support people through the grieving process in a person-centered way. DSPs will also learn how to manage their own grief in the event of the death of someone they support. This lesson could help learners achieve the NADSP E-Badge for Supporting Wellbeing.

Community Inclusion: Natural Supports

People who are connected to others have better life outcomes. This lesson helps DSPs learn strategies to help people connect with natural supports, including family, friends, or other community members. This lesson could help learners achieve the NADSP E-Badge for Planning Activities.

Infection Control Practices

Universal Precautions: Infection Control and Prevention

Using effective infection control procedures is a critical part of DSP roles today. This lesson teaches DSPs how to help stop the spread of infectious diseases in their roles. This lesson could help learners achieve an NADSP E-Badge in Accredited Education.

Universal Precautions: Handwashing Procedures

Handwashing is one of the simplest ways to control the spread of infectious disease. This lesson describes a thorough technique for proper handwashing. This lesson could help learners achieve an NADSP E-Badge in Accredited Education.

Universal Precautions: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an important universal precaution in direct support work. This lesson teaches DSPs the basics of using PPE effectively. This lesson could help learners achieve an NADSP E-Badge in Accredited Education.


The NADSP E-Badge Academy was launched in 2019 as a way for DSPs to earn electronic badges by demonstrating knowledge, skills, and values that are characteristic of high-quality direct support professionals on the job. The E-badge Academy is a way for the direct support workforce to demonstrate an up-to-date and relevant skill set, highlight their professional achievements, and document the value they bring to their employer and the people they support. The DSP badges are aligned directly with the CMS Core Competencies, but also cross-walked with the NADSP Competencies. In 2020, badges and a certification for frontline supervisors (FLSs) of direct support professionals was established. The FLS badges are aligned with the National Frontline Supervisor Competencies. Learners are enrolled in the E-badge Academy by their employers, and they first earn The Code of Ethics Commitment badge as the foundation of their practice. Development of e-badges is ongoing, but those currently available are listed in the E-Badge Academy catalog.As mentioned above, CDS and CFSM contents provide a clear connection to NADSP E-Badges when there is one.