Frontline Initiative Self-Determination

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 (DSP). Seth has been a DSP for too many years to count, and he loves to give advice. 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?

Balancing Wishes and Good Intentions

Dear Clifford and Seth,

I provide support for a woman whose family often has concerns for her that sometimes conflict with her wishes. She’s her own guardian, but her family can still be very imposing. How can I strike that important balance between the family’s wishes for her and her wishes and concerns? This dilemma happens often and leaves residential providers feeling somewhat powerless to advocate for this person. — Terri in Kansas

Dear Terri,

Since this individual is her own guardian, you must be firm about this legal status and help the family to understand that you are there both for her dreams and safety. It may help to clearly state what those dreams are and diplomatically ask for time and space to accomplish them. Provide the opportunity for them to be as involved or uninvolved as they want, but be clear that you’re moving on. Always maintain open communication channels. Also, you may want to ask your supervisor for training in negotiation skills. It is difficult to be in the middle, but remember that you’re dealing with this woman’s dreams. — Clifford

Dear Terri,

Partnership and support of family is one of the most important aspects in a person’s opportunity to plan and reach his or her goals. For the most part, a residential provider has a lot easier job when there is family involvement. However, as in many families, including my own, a family’s wishes and dreams may emphasize different dimensions of their grown children. For example, some families are looking at long-term goals while their children are only looking at short-term ones, or vice-versa. Seek training from your agency on how to take the positive sides of all concerned to work short and long-term goals that will make everyone who is constructively involved optimistic and supportive. — Seth