loading gif icon


5 Ways to Show Appreciation for DSPs Year-Round

For organizations that provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs), employee retention must always be top of mind. In fact, every day presents great opportunities to make your direct support professionals (DSPs) feel appreciated. Showing appreciation to your DSP staff can go a long way in boosting employee morale and retention.

Unfortunatley, our 2023 DSP Survey Report found that 27% of respondents are dissatisfied with the ways their organization shows appreciation for their work. What can you do to make sure your staff feel appreciated and recognized?

Our top 5 DSP appreciation methods

1. Remind your families to say thanks

Families who receive services for an individual with IDD in their homes usually carry a hefty caregiving load, and they may feel exhausted or overwhelmed. Other families may find that the holidays are so difficult that they’ve given up on celebrating them. The whole season might slip right past them.

While families may forget to say thanks to their DSPs, that doesn’t mean they don’t appreciate them. Maybe they just need a little push. Send your families an email reminding them that expressing gratitude goes a long way. A card, a small present, or a gift card may be just the thing that convinces your DSP to stay in the job another year.

This goes for the families of people who live in your residential settings, too. They may not know the names of all the DSPs who work with their family members, or where to send a card or present. You could offer to give them a list of names. Also, let them know if a particular DSP is close to or went out of his or her way to help their family member.

2. Host a DSP appreciation round-the-clock party

Getting all of your DSPs together for an appreciation lunch may not be an option, but you don’t want to throw a party and leave out some of your employees. With this in mind, consider planning a 12-hour or even 24-hour holiday get-together.  Advise supervisors to adjust schedules as needed so everyone has an opportunity to attend. Handing out a gift bag of treats or little toys is always a nice touch.

DSP Recognition Week is a great time to do this!

3. Help your residents say thanks

An individual who lives in your group home or other residential setting may want to go shopping and buy a present for their favorite DSP — without that DSP seeing the gift and spoiling the surprise. Maybe they want to write a card to a DSP expressing their appreciation and gratitude, but they need help writing their feelings down. Your QPs or administrators could visit your residences and help the people you serve with holiday gift-giving plans.

4. Give out “best of the year” awards

“Best of” awards are a great way to show staff that you notice the difference they make and the little things that make them unique. Encourage your front-line supervisors to create awards that are specific to each DSP. If possible, give them a little budget to work with. It’s easy to find cute keepsakes at the dollar store that could be used as awards.

5. Write a personal note of appreciation to your DSPs

In our 2023 DSP Survey Report, 64% of respondents reported that private recognition from a supervisor is very to extremely valuable. A card from a supervisor that acknowledges the hard work of a DSP is great way to accomplish this!

In your note, you can acknowledge the extra shifts they worked, the difficult situation they handled with compassion, the time they advocated for the needs or ambitions of a person they serve. Highlight their professionalism and commitment. Let them know you appreciate their efforts this year, and you look forward to working with them in the coming year.


2023 DSP Survey Report

Download the 2023 DSP Survey Report to get even more data and insights on job satisfaction, recognition and appreciation, and career growth to improve DSP engagement and retention at your organization.

Download Report →

Connect with Us

to find out more about our training and resources

Request Demo