Frontline Initiative Changing Roles

The Real Scoop

Welcome to The Real Scoop. Clifford is a self-advocate who has been politically active for years. He’s here to give you his spin on how to deal with issues you face as you forge ahead in your role as a Direct Support Professional (DSP). Seth has been a DSP for many years, and he loves to give advice. He may ruffle your feathers, but hey, it’s for your own good! Clifford and Seth tackle this one with a few suggestions.

Looking to the Future 

Dear Seth and Cliff,

I am a DSP working in a home supporting four individuals with severe disabilities. I have read about new technology that allows individuals to communicate through a computer and I think it would benefit more than one of the people that I support. My agency seems only concerned with the bare essentials of food, shelter, cleanliness, and clothing. How should I go about advocating for those I support to gain access to the funds for these devices and also increase the motivation of the agency and my fellow staff to start considering more than just the basics?

 Sincerely, Searching for More than the Basics

Dear Searching: Is happiness and living a productive life a bare essential? I know it is. If your agency has some brains, they know it too. They hired you, didn’t they? If there isn’t a consumer advocate on staff in your agency and/or your memos to your supervisor prove fruitless, there are other steps that you can take. Start doing research on local or national resources. Some self-advocate groups have contacts for grants and possible low-cost options for needed technology. You may also want to connect with the person’s support coordinator (case manager) about possible resources. You could also have your consumers’ families start a letter-writing campaign to your agency. Together, your agency might listen to a proposal that you and the families put together. It is going to take work, diplomacy, and time. Your consumers are worth it and you will grow from this experience in your own life. Let me know, — Seth


Dear Searching for More, Try contacting The Office of Technology in your state. They should have funds available to the community. There should also be funds through the individual’s vocational rehabilitation agency because of the need for communication in the workplace. It is very important to educate the other DSPs and administration by explaining the benefits to be gained by the agency and the people that are supported. The agency will be better off in that if you provide the needed service in the present, it will be a lot cheaper than in the future. Especially in the area of communication, if someone can speak for themselves, problems and issues can be addressed now before they develop into crisis. Most importantly, communication is essential for individuals to have quality of life. It is everyone’s right to have access to devices necessary for communicating wants, dreams, and needs. — Cliff