What does a Direct Support Professional do?
Direct Support Professionals typically work in healthcare facilities, helping patients with disabilities complete tasks and stay safe in their environment. They usually work with the patient and their Physician to better understand their challenges, needs and health status, and perform tasks to support this condition and tend to their needs. Direct Support Professionals perform basic housekeeping duties the patient is unable to complete, like cleaning and meal preparation.
The Direct Support Professional is also responsible for creating a safe, positive and encouraging atmosphere for the patient. They work closely with the patient to enhance their decision-making skills and encourage them to engage in more activities that will help strengthen their physical and mental health. Direct Support Professionals often teach patients how to complete certain tasks on their own to promote a more independent and satisfying lifestyle.
Direct Support Professional skills and qualifications
Direct Support Professionals demonstrate a variety of professional skills and qualifications, which can include:
- Attention to detail, especially when adhering to specific protocols and rules while carefully following instructions to care for the needs of the client
- Integrity to ensure clients feel safe and comfortable when tending to personal activities such as helping them bathe
- Trustworthiness and dependability so clients and their families feel comfortable relying on them
- Interpersonal skills when working with clients, including having compassion and being sensitive to their emotional needs when they are in extreme distress or pain
- Physical stamina when performing tasks such as lifting or turning their clients
Direct Support Professional salary expectations
A Direct Support Professional makes an average of $12.29 per hour. Pay rate may depend on a candidate’s education, experience level or geographical location.
Direct Support Professional education and training requirements
While not all employers require it, a Direct Support Professional usually needs a high school diploma or equivalent. Vocational schools and community colleges also offer postsecondary non-degree award programs. A Direct Support Professional may be trained in housekeeping tasks or learn basic safety techniques, including how to respond to emergencies. If state certification is required, specific training may be needed.
Training on basic nutrition, infection control, reading and recording vital signs and personal hygiene can be completed on-the-job or via specialized programs. In addition, clients may have individualized preferences that require Direct Support Professionals to take time to become comfortable before working with them.
Direct Support Professional experience requirements
Direct Support Professionals who work for agencies receiving Medicaid or Medicare reimbursement must receive a minimal level of training in addition to passing a competency evaluation to become certified. Some states allow a Direct Support Professional to complete a competency exam instead of participating in training to become certified. Most employers will require Direct Support Professionals to be CPR certified.
Additional certification requirements vary from state to state with some only requiring on-the-job training that employers usually provide. Other states require formal training available from home health care agencies, elder care programs, vocational schools and community colleges. Most states conduct background checks on all prospective Direct Support Professionals.
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