Frontline Initiative Professionalism

The Real Scoop

Welcome to The Real Scoop. Clifford is a self-advocate who has been politically active for years. He’s ready to give you his spin on how to deal with issues that come up as you forge ahead in your role as a Direct Support Professional. Seth is a Direct Support Professional who loves to give advice. He has been a DSP for too many years to count. He may give you a hard time, but hey, it’s for your own good! Clifford and Seth tackle this one with just a few suggestions. How would you handle this situation?

Mending Fences 

Dear Clifford and Seth, I recently had a major disagreement with staff members at another service provider agency and need to “mend fences” in this situation. How can I serve as an advocate for those I support without being labeled as biased or argumentative and without causing friction with other provider agencies? — Alicia in Maryland

Dear Alicia,

I think you can begin “mending fences” by explaining why you were advocating for the services you were needing for the consumer. You weren’t being argumentative or biased, but were doing the job you were being paid to do. As professionals we have to understand that there will be disagreements and that one has to work very hard to solve them and work together for the people whom you serve. — Clifford

Dear Alicia,

As an advocate you will always find yourself fighting for the rights and benefits for the people you serve —t hat’s the job. Your normal work day will consist of many minor and major disagreements with staff members, not just at other service providers but within your own agency. You don’t need to mend fences, just be sure there’s an open gate for the benefit of those for whom you provide supports. I do this by being diplomatically assertive. Still, no matter what you do, it is likely that you will be labeled negatively by someone. However, your colleagues will understand why we do the job we do. To the consumers and families who are benefited by your determination and drive, your reputation will be of someone who can get things done on behalf of the consumer. You will be respected by the people who matter. It’s not easy but it’s well worth it. — Seth