Core Competencies for Direct Service Providers (DSPs)

Core Competencies for Direct Service Providers (DSPs)

A competency is any skill, knowledge, behavior or other personal characteristic that helpful to superior performance in a job role. Competencies are what outstanding performers do more often, in more situations, and with better results than typical performers. (HayGroup,2009)

We have also identified threshold competencies in a separate section. Threshold competencies are fundamental to all roles in the sector. It is recommended that they be used during recruitment to identify “fit” since threshold competencies generally reflect the values in an organization. By comparison, the core competencies are also relevant in hiring as a reference for considering one’s natural predisposition to develop a strength in the respective competencies. Once an individual is recruited by any organization the core competencies become a personal development and coaching focal point for developing one’s behavioural strength in one’s role. (Hay Group, 2009) People with intellectual and developmental disabilities rely on others around them to provide supports in many areas of their life. Much of this support comes from informal sources such as family members, friends, neighbours and classmates and majority of support comes from professional practitioners in medical, social services or educational fields, such as social workers, teachers and physicians. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities also receive support provided by direct support professionals.Care-givers with a specific focus on honoring the preferences and supporting the day to day needs of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with the intense of positive outcomes in many areas of life such as health, wellness, relationship building, home living and other areas of community participation. (Wehmeyer, Brown et al., 2017, p-373)

Direct service providers (DSPs) are employed in human service environments such as nursing homes, mental health facilities, and non-residential and residential facilities. DSPs who often have limited education, work with various populations, including individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), aged people, individuals with physical health care needs, mental illness, and substance misuse disorders. DSPs’ responsibilities include offering person-to person support to individuals in need of support in their activities of daily living, such as household tasks, personal health and safety, community access, and integration. (Rahbel Rahman et al.- 2018).

It is essential to understanding the way in which the duties of Direct support professionals are defined about the ideas of competencies. Broadly speaking or communication skill, a competency may be thought of as the knowledge, skill, attitudes that must be mastered in order to perform a good job. By defining the work performed by Direct support professionals in developmental sector in terms of competencies, it is assumed that the profession is action and value oriented not only simply knowledge based. Building knowledge is essential for building competency and it’s not enough in order to develop competency and put into action, practiced and improved. It is the application of knowledge and constant refinement of skills that leads to competency task. (Wehmeyer, Brown et al., 2017, p-378)

Each set of Direct support professional competencies is extensive, and it may seem overwhelming for many direct support professionals and supervisors to focus on gaining high levels of competence in each skill areas. It is important to understand competencies in relation to the most important duties a direct support professional performs in her or his job because during job hiring the interview guide mostly focus on roles and responsibilities, knowledge about direct support professional core competencies, opinion and attitude toward the current training and core competency training. Sometimes it’s depending on the needs and preferences of the people with intellectual and developmental disabilities whom direct support professionals support, some competency areas may be important at particular time and it’s depend on client’s situation. Direct support professionals need to perform well organized into 12 main categories:1) Participant empowerment2) communiction3) Assessment 4) community and service networking 5) facilitation of services 6) community living skills and supports 7) education, training and self- development 8) advocacy 9) vocational, educational and career supports 10) crisis intervention 11) organizational participation 12) Documentation.  (Wehmeyer, Brown et al., 2017, p-378 &379)

There are seven common core competencies and four threshold core competencies in direct support professionals to shows the skill, knowledge, behavior and personal characteristics which helpful in superior job performance. Advocating for others competence makes a good role in developmental sector because direct support professionals supporting someone when they need help or trying to find solutions and when someone has a problem. In developmental sector, as a direct support professional there are some skills including communication, problem-solving skill, organization and patience are needed when be advocate for people with developmental disabilities. As an example, I can say that when people with developmental disabilities have no knowledge about their rights or sometime, they avoid taking steps against any violence or abuse at that time as a direct support professional I must be advocate for that person and help them in their problems. (Wehmeyer, Brown et al., 2017, p-381 & 382)

“Collaboration” is a second one core competence which focus on communication method. How to communicate or interact with others, within team members or as an individual, organizations or agencies outside one’s immediate work place or span control. (e.g.: community partners or co-workers). This competency is about teamwork. Whether working with others within one’s own team, cross-functionally, or in the community with community partners, the demonstrated willingness to collaborate effectively with others is critical to creating alignment within and across groups, and to providing high levels of service to those who are supported. In developmental sector when works as a direct support professional shares information, ideas with team members about actions and proposed changes that will affect them. Give credits team members who have performed well and encourages and empowers others, making them feel strong and important as well as try to promote a friendly climate and a good working relationship regardless of personal likes or dislikes and builds good morale or cooperation within the team, including creating symbols of group identity or other actions to build cohesiveness. As a team member, works to resolve conflicts, within and/or across teams, by clarifying understanding, listening for underlying concerns, and defining areas of agreement and of disagreement between parties.  Consults with others and maintains objectivity when working on issues that cross boundaries. Consistently holds self and others accountable for promoting collaboration and resolving cross-boundary conflicts to facilitate win-win resolution of differences. As per my own experience, I can say that if people work in group collaboratively, they can easily get updated knowledge and more information from theircollegues and they can easily make good relationship and networking with team members and across the team. (Hay group-2009).

Creative problem solving and decision making is the most important core competency because as a direct support professional demonstrate the behavior to try to identify one’s problems, understand the situation, collect the detail information about that issue then breaking the issues in small pieces & identify the situation and related behavior and thinking outside of the box and explore creative ideas or use resources and making decision(Hay Group- 2009).

Decision making is defined as making choices, identifying courses of action, determining the probability of respective consequences, and choosing and implementing the best course of action  With respect to decision making among people with developmental disabilities, over the past decade, the supported decision-making approach has been gaining momentum wherein adults with disabilities get help in making decisions, but they retain control over who provides that help, and what the ultimate decisions will be. In supported decision making, the individual with a disability chooses direct support professionals to assist with decision making, and problem solving.(Burke et al.- 2019)because  direct support professional , when solve the problem of people with developmental disabilities they think imaginatively in order to develop issue or situation and creates number of solutions regarding issue and try to apply various solutions maintaining safe environment and modify that decision in which client is comfortable.(Hay Group- 2009)

Fostering independence in others this competency focus on empowering or motivating others including whom we support as a direct support professional (people with intellectual & developmental disability) and staff members. Becoming self‐sufficient or independent adults is the goal for most high school graduates, including those young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Self‐sufficiency is a societal value commonly achieved through educational, employment, and independent living pursuits. Specifically, personal development and self‐determination are the quality‐of‐life domains associated with positive postschool outcomes for young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Developing effective instructional practices that facilitate independence and self‐determination in the natural environment or less restrictive settings helps to close the gap between those with and without disabilities. It is important to utilize evidence‐based instructional practices. These practices include identification of the target skills, strategies for programming opportunities to practice and maintain the skills, and the coordination of supports and accommodations needed to generalize the performance of the skills across tasks and settings. Two categories of daily living skills, known as activities of daily living (ADL’s) and instrumental ADL’s (IADL’s), are important for planning instruction. ADL’s are meaningful, functional personal care tasks such as eating, brushing teeth, bathing, and personal hygiene, and IADL’s are skills such as cleaning, making meals, grocery shopping, and banking (American Occupational Therapy Association). Skills that should be taught in self‐determination include setting goals, problem solving, making choices, self‐managing, and advocating for one’s needs. (Simmons-Reed, Evette A. – 2017)

A goal of perfection such as perfect independence, certainly limits the extent to which the individual can achieve the goal. The process of working toward ideally independent sate requires a full definition of independence for achievement. Consequently, as an ideal that can be defined and functioning according to social and cultural norms, independence is a construct that can be measured in a continuum. In a frame work of perfection people whose independent capabilities are on the lower end of continuum require more intensive supports in order to reach the goal.

(Boele, Amy L. – 2017).

Initiative is a competency in which identifying opportunities or problems and acting to enhance organizational results. People with this competency are action-oriented – they act in the present to create value in the future. This competency is about being proactive – having a bias for action. Effective performance in direct support roles requires the ability to think and plan & prepare for problems versus how to cope up with them. At more senior levels, this is captured in the Strategic Thinking competency. As a direct support professional, identify areas where support might be needed and set up for happening events and immediate changes & ensure enough follow- up to check on progress. Be ready for achievement and prepares for problems which interfere with work or attainment of result. (Hay Group- 2009)

The competency interpersonal relations & respect mainly focus on interpersonal staff behavior, effectively communication, mutual understanding and good demonstration method are effective when works with people who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. When communicate or interact with people with developmental disabilities and their families demonstrating high level of interpersonal understanding and skill which is effective in building relationship and providing high level of support and services. People with intellectual disabilities (ID) are at higher risk for behavioural problems and mental health problems than people without intellectual or developmental disability. Sometimes it’s suggested that deficits in the behavior of disabled are due to lack of social support, negligence, lack of respect and unsupportive social environment is responsible. Direct support professionals considered as a key role in the behavioral intervention for people with developmental disabilities or challenging behaviour. (Willems et. al.-2010). As per my personal experience I would like to say that good support and respect is more important keys when works with people with developmental disabilities because if care givers or health professional and family members don’t give them respect and avoid them, they never share their problems and isolate themselves from others which affect their physical and mental health.

Resilience means ability to cope up with crisis or situations. So, in the developmental sector, direct support professionals who works with people who have intellectual and developmental disability, so they must maintaining resilience involves stamina and perform under continuing stress. Those who works as a direct support professional with people who have developmental disabilities are may experience work related stress and it is difficult to continuous able to provide high level of support or qualitative care. As an example, parenting stress is consistently found to be higher in parents of child with developmental disabilities, but some families are become resilient and flourish in the face of these challenges. These types of families increasing demand care givers, change the attitude towards their child, maintain positive manner and high level of self- motivation which is helpful, and it’s does not matter which type of circumstances. (Gerstein et. Al.-2009) (Caldwell et.al. -2018)

Flexibility is creating to and working effectively with various type of situations and different types of people. Flexibility states understanding and appreciating different and opposing perspectives on any issue or situation, adapting one’s approach as the requirements of a situation change, and changing or easily accepting changes in one’s own organization or job requirements. (Hay Group- 2009) Flexibility is encouraged in order to expect on the developments and movements in their rapidly changing environment. When working in developmental sector understand other people’s view, ideas and shows willingness to change your thought or ideas based on new information and evidence or other’s view. (Green, Venessa et al., 2006)

Self- control is most important competency because in developmental sector employees works with people who have developmental disabilities and self- control involves to keeping one’s inhibitory emotions under control, feels emotions and deals positively with them. This competency is critical requirement because in this sector individual deals with challenging situations and works as a direct support role. In this sector, this competency is more important when situation changes respond calmly and slowly, knows personal reaction of client and communicates with confidence, explain procedure calmly and achieve desired result. (Wehmeyer, Brown et al., 2017, p-90-91)

Service Orientation is about searching and serving people who receive support, the public, colleagues, partners, coworkers and peers to best meet their needs. It is the ability to understand those underlying needs of others and to use this information to benefit those they serve/support – both those who receive support and others within the developmental services sector. Individuals demonstrating this competency can put himself/herself into the mind of the people who receive support and understand needs from their point of view. It includes focusing one’s efforts on discovering and meeting the needs of the people who receive support, including unexpressed and/or future needs, in order to develop a broad understanding of those they support. (Hay Group-2010) To provide quality service and support requires an ability to go the extra mile, to take accountability to help resolve issues, to seek to understand the underlying needs of the people who receive support, and provide the appropriate support and service, now and for the future. (Hay Group -2009)

Values and Ethics refers to depicting conduct, dispositions and viewpoints consistent with personal integrity, as well as concern for, and sensitivity to, the fundamental values and ethics of the agency/organization/sector and the profession. It includes the capacity for sound ethical judgment in an ethically complex work environment and in the face of pressures and constraints(Hay Group -2010).

Code of ethics focuses on nine principles that should guide the actions of direct support professionals as they support individual with intellectual and developmental disabilities in leading healthy & happy life. This ethics aim is to promote freedom, justice and equity.1) person -centered support 2) promoting physical and emotional well being 3) integrity & responsibility 4) confidentiality 5) justice, fairness & equity 6) Respect 7) relationships 8) self- determination 9) advocacy. (Wehmeyer, Brown et al., 2017, p-380- 381)

Those working within this sector are ambassadors for the sector. As such, their values and ethics can be construed as the values and ethics of the agency they represent. To maintain the respect accorded the sector it is essential that those working within it demonstrate high levels of integrity and align one’s behaviour to support the agency’s and sector’s values and ethics. This is essential to all roles, and is, therefore, a critical baseline competency. (Hay Group- 2010)

We have also identified threshold competencies in a separate section. Threshold competencies are fundamental to all roles in the sector. It is recommended that they be used during recruitment to identify “fit” since threshold competencies generally reflect the values in an organization. By comparison, the core competencies are also relevant in hiring as a reference for considering one’s natural predisposition to develop a strength in the respective competencies. Once an individual is hired, the core competencies become a personal development and coaching focal point for developing one’s behavioural strength in one’s role.

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