Frontline Initiative Change

What Would You Tell Them? Missouri Workers Speak Out

The following are excerpts of comments from Direct Support Professionals who attended the St. Charles County Conferences in Missouri last year. Each quote is addressed to either agency administrators, the Governor of Missouri, the President of the United States or other DSPs. Do these reflect any of your feelings or thoughts?

I would tell Agency Administrators –

  • Create a better curriculum for seasoned employees and incentive programs for career advancement and the ideal employee. If DSPs are the backbone, they should be better educated.
  • We need better wages to be able to keep good DSPs in this field. Provide a shift-differential for evening and night shift. We need more positive recognition for a job well done!
  • We need opportunities to increase education, more contact between DSPs and administrators. They need to consult us before changes are made. They need to visit where we work more often.
  • Treat people with respect, and give credit where credit is due.
  • Listen to the direct care staff. We have good ideas. We are the people who do the hands on job. Don’t be afraid to get out there, roll up your shirt sleeves and work if needed.
  • It would help to tell us why things need to be the way they are: improve communication
  • Weed out those who are not suited for DSP jobs. Don’t be afraid to fire people who aren’t working out. Don’t keep workers just because you are short-staffed.
  • We want to live by the certification principles. Better pay, educational incentives, incentive for long-term employees. Smaller homes for clients. Pay should increase with years, performance and responsibilities. Christmas bonus.
  • Recognize my opinions and years in the field, give me some say so in how I support the individuals I work with, and also some say in how the money is spent for programs.
  • Form a support group within the agency for people with burn out, but who want to continue in this field.

I would tell the Governor of Missouri –

  • Create tax incentives for businesses to hire individuals with disabilities. Professionalization of DSPs (i.e. higher wages, too). Create more state-wide and state-funded training for individual agencies that work with individual with disabilities.
  • Higher pay raises across the board, better benefits.
  • Recognize and give recognition to the work that the DSPs do in their state. Start a task force for DSPs to voice their opinions.
  • More funding for programs, etc., educational programs/statewide campaign to teach the public more about what we do and the people we serve.
  • Pass the bill for a credential for DSPs to provide a better level of care to the individuals we serve. They, too, are entitled to a higher quality of living as all human beings.

I would tell the President of the United States –

  • There should be a nationally recognized criterion for DSPs so that your training goes with you from state to state.
  • We need adequate funding, and some kind of federal incentive (tax break) for people working in this field. Make sure the public is adequately educated about people with developmental disabilities.
  • Support DSPs. Push the state to give more incentives to DSPs. Visit different sites to show your support.
  • Someone should consider signing legislation into law that if you work with individuals with any type of disability there should be mandatory drug testing.
  • Quit making committees that talk, and create a committee that actually does something, and listens to people.

 I would tell other Direct Support Professionals –

  • Further your educational requirements with the constant changes in the field of MR/DD. Continue to write your legislators. They do work for us.
  • Advocate for selves, share input and ideas. It does make a difference.
  • Have fun while you work. Take yourself less seriously.
  • Brainstorm for ideas to improve our job performance.
  • Come to work when scheduled. If you don’t, it puts a hardship on co-workers. See if the programs you develop work before expecting someone else to do them. Stop complaining and do the job you were hired to do. Take advantage of continuing education.
  • Share your experiences with your co-workers. Take the new staff under your wing and help them along. Provide encouragement/positive feedback as well as constructive criticism. Keep an open mind. View disagreements as an opportunity to learn. Don’t shut out new or different ideas. Have fun and laugh a lot!
  • Actually do your job! Don’t expect just to go shopping or out to eat. Our participants deserve better. Suggest activities they want to do and will enjoy.
  • We have to work together, and complement one another’s skills, to be the best we can to be effective. We need to be motivated to take advantage of the training opportunities and develop our career.
  • Work together in defining goals (realistic and attainable) and go to management with concerns and ask for follow-up to these concerns. Support one another.