Direct Support Professionals

Retaining Your Direct Support Professionals (DSPs)

Tools and strategies for hiring, training and retaining DSPs who support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Strategies to Boost DSP Retention

Every provider agency in the intellectual and developmental disabilities field has the same mission: Provide children and adults with IDD with the resources and support they need to achieve full and meaningful lives in their communities.

The most successful agencies succeed because their Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) truly live this mission and care deeply for the people they support. By training and developing the skills of your staff, you position your agency for success and ultimately improve the quality of care for those you serve.

The best way to train new or experienced Direct Support Professionals is not always straightforward. That’s why Relias has worked with IDD partners, organizations and provider agencies to develop these go-to resources for training and developing DSPs with the goal of improving the quality of care and positioning your agency for success.

Articles on DSP Retention

Addressing the Other Causes of DSP Turnover

The average turnover rate for direct support professionals (DSPs) at organizations that provide services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is 45%. Here are the some of the reasons why.

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What Makes a Successful DSP, and How Do You Find More?

What do you look for when interviewing DSP candidates? I’ve asked that question of providers across the country, and the same characteristics come up again and again...

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11 Steps to Implementing a DSP Peer Mentoring Program

A peer mentorship program for your DSPs is a great way to increase employee engagement and retention. Get started on a DSP peer mentoring program with these steps.

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Credentialing for Direct Support Professionals

Shouldn’t we invest in DSPs’ knowledge, competency-based skills and professional values that lead to credentials and career ladders

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FAQs about DSPs

  • What jobs fall under the category of direct support professional?

    Personal care assistants, job coaches and group home workers are all DSPs. DSPs may also be called support workers, caregivers or paraprofessionals. These job names are also used in the behavioral health field.

    In addition, a state may have unique names for DSPs derived from the names of its support programs. For example, North Carolina used to call its Medicaid waiver the Community Alternatives Program, and DSPs in that program were called CAP workers.

  • What are the training requirements for DSPs?

    Training requirements vary from state to state and from provider to provider. In general, DSPs must have training in CPR, First Aid and the organization’s policies and procedures. Their supervisors will also train them in the unique needs of the individuals they will support, as outlined in their Individual Support Plan.

    However, the best agencies train their DSPs on the primacy of participant employment and respect for the individual being served. Trainings on the conditions of the individuals and on such specialties as employment support, positive behavior supports and the Fatal Four are also important. Such supplemental trainings are essential to providing high-quality services and supports.

  • How can a provide agency create a career ladder for DSPs?

    Establishing opportunities for professional development and career advancement is essential to boosting DSP retention. Here are some strategies an agency can use to create a career ladder:

    • Specialist positions: The American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR) offers Certificates of Achievement for certain disciplines, including behavior specialist and community inclusion specialist.
    • Certifications: The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) offers e-badges for essential competencies for DSPs and for supplemental training. These e-badges can be grouped together to achieve NADSP’s certifications for DSPs.
    • Peer mentorship: Establishing a peer mentorship program creates a career step for your experiences DSPs and nurtures your new hires, which can increase the likelihood that they will be successful and stay in the job.

Strengthen Your DSP Retention Efforts

Insufficient training, job stress and poor supervision are among the top reasons direct support professionals (DSPs) leave the job. Address these issues by providing your direct support professionals and their supervisors with great training.

Relias online courses and personnel assessments can help you boost your employee retention.

  • Reduce stress and frustration by ensuring that your DSPs have the knowledge and skills they need to do a great job.
  • Make sure your DSPs have the supervision, support and encouragement they need by training their supervisors in leadership, management and communication.
  • Detect gaps in knowledge or skills before they become costly mistakes with personnel assessments.

To learn how you can partner with Relias to improve your training, service quality, and DSP retention, schedule a call with one of our solutions experts.

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