Frontline Initiative Supporting Families

The Real Scoop

Welcome to The Real Scoop. Clifford is a self-advocate who has been po lit i cal ly 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.

Family matters

Dear Seth and Cliff,

I am a DSP and the person I support lives at home with their family. Previously I was a DSP in a group home, and this is different. How can I better support the individual and the family? What should I know? What special considerations should I make if the family is culturally different from my own?

— Homebound

Dear Homebound,

It is important to learn the family routine, what the family needs from you, and what time you need to be there. You need to be sensitive to the family’s needs and to work around them. You can learn more about their culture by talking with them and visiting the library. Ask them what you can do to make them more comfortable.

— Cliff

Dear Seth and Cliff, How can I build a better relationship with the family I support? What are some simple steps that I can take?

— Call with Good News


Dear Call with Good News,

The first step is to sit down with the family and find out what expectations they have; this will form the basis for your working relationship. If there is an evaluation, if the family was ever asked by the provider to evaluate the DSP, this will form the foundation for the evaluation criteria. It is important for both sides to have clear expectations. Again, sit down with the family and learn about their routine. Ask, how can I work into that routine?

— Cliff

Dear Homebound and Call with Good News,

I’m going to send you both to the library to take out a book which covers everything. “Community Supports for Aging Adults with Lifelong Disabilities” by Matthew P. Janiciki & Edward F. Ansello, published by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Company (2000). Generally, you will be adapting to home environments, building bridges within and between community agencies, looking for clues for the persons interests and wants, and finally sharing the cultural beauty of your ancestry and of your consumers through activities of fun and learning. Whew, that’s quite a list. Bottomline — show you care with respect and a smile and each day will be a relationship builder.

— Seth