*The above image was taken prior to COVID-19In these challenging times of COVID-19 shutdowns and high unemployment, essential health care workers remain on the job and are needed now more than ever. Especially in the field of home health care. (That’s why around here, we call them Heroes on the Home Front.)
The COVID-19 pandemic has confirmed two things we already knew:
- Most individuals who need medical care or personal care assistance prefer to live independently in the comfort of their own home and community. This was true before, and the preference is even stronger now to avoid a higher risk of virus spread in group living settings.
- Home health care services were built for challenges like this pandemic and the changing needs of clients and caregivers, alike. One-on-one home care offers flexible scheduling, a safe and controlled environment, and the best quality of life for clients with special needs.
If you are looking for your next job opportunity, there is an essential health care position that is hiring, but not very well known. It provides professional support but does not require a medical degree. Just a big heart and a passion for helping others.
What is a direct support professional, or DSP?
A direct support professional (DSP)—also known as a habilitation technician or hab tech—is a friend, a companion, and a mentor. Someone who helps those with an intellectual or developmental disability (IDD) to enjoy meaningful lives and reach their full potential.
Individual care needs vary based on each client’s set of abilities, desires, interests, and challenges, and their personal limitations may range from a mild learning disability, to a sensory disorder on the autism spectrum, to impaired movement, deafness, or blindness.
What is Habilitation?
Habilitation is a health care specialty providing services that help people with an intellectual or developmental disability to develop life skills and enjoy meaningful lives. Our approach at BAYADA Habilitation has a special focus on independence and dignity: ensuring safety, and teaching clients how to do things for themselves.
Habilitation services are supported by federal and state government to help people with IDD live in the homes of their choice, pursue employment, engage in a purposeful day, and achieve their life goals in their community, where they want to be. Considering that people with IDD sometimes outlive their parents and family caregivers, habilitation services make a world of difference in the quality of their lives. For family members who are providing care and support, habilitation services give them much-needed time to themselves and improve their quality of life, too.
This is a health care field that may be invisible to some, but critically important to others. And it is uniquely rewarding for the compassionate direct support professionals who choose it.
“I love what I do because it doesn’t feel like a job when you’re enjoying time making clients happy,” said Brooke Stavitski, a BAYADA Hab Tech in the Wyoming Valley of Pennsylvania. “Anyone who enjoys spending time with people and helping them with everyday life activities would be a great fit as a direct support professional!”
The many ways direct support professionals make a difference in people’s lives
A direct support professional visits clients on a regular basis to teach and help them with activities of daily living (ADLs). Each client will have a their own list of “community living goals” to work on, such as improving their motor skills, learning how to shop, communicating with cashiers, spending and managing money, caring for pets, making the bed, and doing chores.
For BAYADA client Trevor and his BAYADA Hab Tech Ryan, their list of goals included cooking, crossing the street, taking the bus, and playing basketball—lots of basketball. Ryan shared, “Trevor happens to be my younger cousin, but he’s more like a little brother to me. We grew up together. And working with him on this level is an interesting new dimension to see.”
Many clients like Trevor have jobs in the community, and their direct support professional helps make sure they get there safely and on time.
Teaching how to safely walk to work is part of what BAYADA Hab Tech II Nathalis does for her long-time client, Donna. She also helps Donna practice her conversation skills, respect for others, and saying her pleases and thank yous.
Watch Ryan and Nathalis in this short video that explains more about being a direct support professional (DSP) / habilitation technician (hab tech).