Direct support professionals perform a number of tasks to aid people with disabilities, providing encouragement and instructions on specific tasks the individuals struggle with due to their disabilities. Most direct support professionals are expected to document their interactions with clients - as well as any changes they notice - so the care team may learn and develop strategies. Often, they communicate with external parties on issues related to the client's care. For example, some clients may be unable to talk on the phone; direct support professionals may help provide solutions for those clients and work with caretakers and loved ones as necessary.
Most direct support professionals do not work in a centralized location and make regular visits to clients' homes. However, in some cases, direct support professionals may report to a specific building in which several residents need their services. Although direct support professionals typically work during regular business hours, help outside of these hours may be required unexpectedly (such as in emergencies). As most direct support professionals are employed by contractors, many support professionals may need to report their activities to their employer, a care home manager, and/or clients' families. For this reason, direct support professionals must have excellent communications and interpersonal skills.
A high school diploma or equivalent is generally required for direct support professionals, as is daily access to a vehicle. Additional qualifications - and previous experience in the field of patient care and disability services - are often preferred.
Direct Support Professional Tasks
Check patients' pulse, temperature and respiration.
Provide patients with help moving in and out of beds, baths, wheelchairs or automobiles, and with dressing and grooming.
Maintain records of patient care, progress, or problems to report and discuss observations with supervisor or case manager.
Change bed linens, wash and iron patients' laundry, and clean patients' quarters.
Entertain, converse with, or read aloud to patients to keep them mentally healthy and alert.