During this global health crisis, we’d like to turn the spotlight to the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs).
These front-line heroes are risking their lives every day to continue providing essential services for the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD) community and are critical lines of defense against the pandemic. Working from home simply isn’t an option for these dedicated support professionals.
The work of a Direct Support Professional is complex and highly specialized, as they support every aspect of an individual’s daily life on a unique, person-by-person basis. These unsung heroes act as a lifeline for people with disabilities under normal circumstances.
As discussed recently in the New York Times, COVID-19 is a major threat to the I/DD community in particular. The virus is taking root in New York’s network of group homes and with individuals with disabilities, as many of these people have vulnerable immune systems and are at an inherently greater risk against the ravages of severe COVID-19.
Now, as routines are disrupted and day programs are closed throughout New York State, DSPs are on the front lines. The virus has put an unprecedented strain on DSPs working in residential settings, and creates an impossible challenge as they must ensure that they aren’t carriers of the virus — while putting themselves at risk for infection.
As we work through this crisis together as a nation, it is critical to recognize the 7 million Americans with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, as well as the dedicated DSPs and provider agencies that support them.
Bill Guarinello, CEO of Heartshare Human Services, shared his appreciation of Direct Support Professionals throughout the industry with Fox 5 News: “When you thank the essential healthcare workers and first-responders on social media during this pandemic, don’t forget about the Direct Support Professionals!” If you are located near any group homes for the developmentally disabled, Mr. Guarinello also suggests personally offering your thanks directly to the DSPs, or asking if there’s any assistance you can provide at this time.
The Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) put together a video acknowledging and appreciating DSPs this week, which you can watch and share on Facebook. As OPWDD Commissioner Theodore Kastner said, “While we can’t be together physically to commend their dedication and resolve, we can lift their spirits by making sure they hear us. Direct Support workers are the definition of #NewYorkTough not just during this time, but all the time.” #ApplaudDirectSupport
Our friends at Person Centered Care Services (PCCS) also have a goal of bringing some much-needed relief to their Direct Support Professionals. As DSPs continue to provide necessary care for people with disabilities, PCCS has designed ‘DSP Strong’ apparel, and will be utilizing all the proceeds to directly support front line staff.
And last but not least, if you happen to be in a good financial position, please consider donating to a non-profit organization.
The need for an adequately-staffed, protected, and fairly-compensated DSP workforce is necessary. The Hill has outlined essential approaches that Congress should take in order to emerge from the global pandemic with as little harm as possible to the I/DD community.
These steps include:
eVero Corporation is in close contact with OPWDD and our partner agencies as we continue to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation in New York.
For more information on what we are currently doing, please see eVero’s Ongoing Response to COVID-19.