What is a DSP?

You may have heard the term DSP or Direct Support Professional, but may not know what a DSP is or what a DSP does. The role a Direct Support Professional plays in the workforce is one of tremendous importance. DSPs are creative, compassionate, and skilled people who dedicate their time, talent, and passion for supporting the life of another person. That is why people who choose to be DSPs are usually the most imaginative, dedicated, and engaged professionals. Making the difference in the lives of the people who need their support is the goal of every DSP.

What Does a DSP Do?

At Springbrook, DSPs support people with intellectual or developmental disabilities. DSPs facilitate, teach, and encourage people with a wide range of different needs and abilities. Providing support encompasses all aspects of a person’s life, with a variety of responsibilities that are dependent on the needs of the person being supported. Each person supported by a DSP has their own goals. A person may want to travel without assistance, do their own shopping, or continue their education. It is the job of a DSP to help each person along their journey. Providing support involves a range of tasks from facilitating travel arrangements, assisting with a new communication device, or helping with a budget to cooking, serving meals, and light housekeeping duties. DSPs also accompany people to doctor’s appointments, shopping trips, religious services, or even on day trips and vacations. With support from a DSP, the people who choose Springbrook can accomplish all of the goals they set for themselves.

Every workday for a DSP is different because every person supported is unique with distinctive ideas, agenda, and goals. When performing any work duty, DSPs take thorough notes. These notes include medication logs, behavior notes, and daily activity logs. This comprehensive record is maintained and followed within an Individual Plan of Protective Oversight (IPOP). The IPOP is an optimal way to record data on the services a person is receiving. When used effectively, it prevents mistakes with prescriptions, facilitates effective staff shift changes, and is also an excellent way to track progress on goals. Data provides empirical evidence to indicate whether or not a specific type of treatment, task, or program is working as desired.

What is the Best Part About Being a DSP?

Megan Lincoln, a direct support professional of five years, says, “Spending so much time with someone and seeing them accomplish a goal is one of the greatest rewards of being a DSP.” Every person Springbrook supports has different goals and being a DSP is like being an advisor for a person working to graduate college. The DSP helps point the person in the right direction to accomplish their goals like an advisor but is never directly responsible for the person’s actions or the choices they make. When a person reaches their goal (and the degree is in hand), it is a huge accomplishment for everyone involved. From overcoming barriers to running errands, a DSP is there every step of the way to help people achieve their potential.

Another significant part about being a DSP, as explained by Lewis Putriment, 15-year DSP, is the variety of work a DSP does. Every day feels like something new or different, and a DSP gets to share many of the various daily activities of a person’s life. These activities can be anything from accompanying a person receiving support when they go shopping or even when going to the movies. This professional relationship positively influences the lives of everyone involved. Lewis’ passion for his work is fueled by being an important part of someone’s life, and he explained how, for him, it doesn’t even feel like work. “If you love what you do and it’s fulfilling, then you never really work a day in your life.”


If you love what you do and it’s fulfilling, then you never really work a day in your life.

Lewis Putriment

Residence Counselor, Cook Street Community Home

Are There Any Challenges?

Like any job, some challenges have to be faced. Retail work, food service, and factory work can involve long work hours, odd schedules, and many have daunting or repetitive tasks. It is up to every person to decide whether or not they will let a job’s challenges negatively impact them, or if instead they will overcome it. One obstacle all DSPs face is seeing someone they spend so much time within a crisis—whether a behavioral concern or a medical emergency, it can be emotionally challenging and sometimes frightening. But, DSPs are well trained, professional, and prepared to handle any situation. Another challenge that many DSPs shared was communication (or lack thereof). Being a DSP is a team job and requires active and effective communication to ensure that the people they support thrive. Every person on the Springbrook team relies on effective communication to keep things running smoothly and according to protocol. If any staff member is not communicating successfully, it can cause problems for everyone.

So you want to be a DSP…

Being a Springbrook DSP is an excellent opportunity for people who have initiative, are optimistic, and are excited to work with great people. The job allows you to learn more about yourself. You will work with a great team, at a great place, doing work that matters. If you are ready to try it, remember to give it some time when you start because a lot goes into the support of another person. You will need to learn about the person or people you support, as well as learn the many rules and regulations that govern Springbrook’s work. Some of the work is tough, personal, challenging, and some of the work may be outside of your immediate comfort zone. But, if you push past your comfort zone, you will have the chance to grow with an organization that is ready to invest in you.

Each September we celebrate National Direct Support Professional Recognition Week. We would again like to thank all of Springbrook’s DSPs. Their talents, hard work, and energy undeniably make the difference for the people we support.

Ready to Join Us?

Make a difference every day by joining an organization that wants to invest in YOU. Don’t you think it’s time to apply for a DSP position at Springbrook?

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