Monday, December 17, 2012

A Brand New Day/Cedar Lake, Kentucky

What an amazing day this past Friday at Cedar Lake, Cedar Lake Lodge, Cedar Lake Enrichment Center and Park Place Residence near Louisville, Kentucky!! Joe Macbeth, Executive Director of NADSP, and I had the great honor and joy to be invited to the agency-wide celebration of certifying  110 DSP-Rs!   DSP-R essentially means that the candidates have passed the requirements and petitioned the NADSP and have qualified for registry in a national data base.  DSP-Rs are recognized as being in the initial qualification stage for national credentialing. Cedar Lake has committed to transforming the majority of it's front-line direct support workforce into fully nationally credentialed professionals with the DSP-C within 5 years. Amazing goal!! 

Cedar Lake began this wonderful journey towards a DSP-centric culture on August 2, 2012, at the Brand New Day Gala!....heretofore referred to as BND (I was not blogging then but may just devote a retrospective blog entry about that day in the near future...stay tuned) During the BND event last August every stakeholder in the Cedar Lake family committed to a 5 year plan to educate, remunerate and register and credential as many their Direct Support Professionals as possible.  This was such a celebratory day and was indeed the opening ceremony for what is to be a powerful journey towards excellence.  We were there that hot August day and we have watched carefully over the last four months as the leadership of this organization and the staff at Cedar Lake are fast becoming a shining beacon for similar organizations in the country to follow and aspire to become.  Cedar Lake is steadfast and on a clear path to becoming a true national leader in supports and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities with the emphasis on their Direct Support Professionals as being the primary vehicle for assisting the people supported in achieving abundant life and abundant possibilities in life.

Chris Stevenson, President and CEO, of Cedar Lake has been the heart and soul of this agency transformation and has clearly committed dollars and "sense" to make Cedar Lake the absolute pioneer in promoting competent and ethical Direct Support Professionals to the top of the organizational chart.  We see Cedar Lake and it's fine leadership as an example and model for a national shift into promoting organizational DSP-Centric culture and focus.This can only be done  strategically and with LOTS of focus on the right people leading.

Patrick Varner, Cedar Lake's Community Engagement Coordinator, is Cedar Lake's resident BND cheerleader and culture-maker.  He is at the center of the agency transformation and is a person who infects you with hope, inspiration and BND mojo!!   Ya gotta see this man in words can describe him!! He is important to keep the spirit moving.

Janet Wilson, Cedar Lake's DSP-Educator , (yes, the organization has created a specific position called the DSP-Educator that will help DSPs with all aspects of their credentialing journey as well as educate and train all staff of the organization)   had this to say about Friday's event,

" It is an important moment for us all to be supporting so many staff in this transformative undertaking, and we are looking forward to carrying on the work to build more steps in the career ladder. Most of all, the day served to reinforce the importance of the services that our DSPs provide to our residents, the full support of the organization, and everyone’s commitment to building a career based upon a firm foundation of our values."  Janet Wilson, DSP-R ....Yes, Janet is a DSP-R!!

Several other people are on the Cedar Lake Leadership team and I do want to give them a mention;

Jason Squires, VP Operations.
Jim Evans, VP Development and Marketing
Martina Netherton, VP Community Services
Clyde Lang, VP Finance and Administration
Marcy Clark, VP Human Resources

....all of these Cedar Lake leaders are critical to the success of the Brand New Day initiative and deserve great credit as well....

The most important people at Cedar Lake will always be the people supported.  With DSP-R and DSP-C staff by their side the mission of the organization will blossom, and life will be abundant for everyone in the Cedar Lake family.

So friends, look to Kentucky for some shining light!  Cedar Lake is an organization that has 110 Direct Support Professionals signing-off on their documentation with....


they deserve to be listed here!!!!
.....and here they are!!!

Nancy Acree Cedar Lake

Joshua Acree Cedar Lake

Carla Allen Cedar Lake

Kent Allen Cedar Lake

Erin Ayres Cedar Lake

Sharon Ball Cedar Lake

Barbara Ballew Cedar Lake

Cynthia Behymer Cedar Lake

Janet Bierman Cedar Lake

Elizabeth Bolin Cedar Lake

Virginia Bosco Cedar Lake

Deanna Broyles Cedar Lake

Laura Calhoun Cedar Lake

Keely Carroll Cedar Lake

Cassandra Carroll Cedar Lake

Leslie Carter Cedar Lake

Gail Cashion Cedar Lake

Claudia Castaneda Cedar Lake

Linda Chesser Cedar Lake

Katy Clark Cedar Lake

Katie Clark Cedar Lake

Deborah Clemmons Cedar Lake

Joyce Clubb Cedar Lake

Kimberly Coates-Smith Cedar Lake

Ashley Cooke Cedar Lake

Candace Corona Cedar Lake

Allissha Crawford Cedar Lake

Sarah Daniels Cedar Lake

Danna Dixon Cedar Lake

Billie Downey Cedar Lake

Angela Durbin Cedar Lake

Sandra Edsell Cedar Lake

Stephanie Esparza Cedar Lake

Aleshia Fisher Cedar Lake

Brittany Fitzgerald Cedar Lake

Vickie Fitzgerald Cedar Lake

Emma Foree Cedar Lake

Mary Fowler Cedar Lake

Sarah Fox Cedar Lake

Shelly Gaines Cedar Lake

Maria Gaona Cedar Lake

Rickey Geary Cedar Lake

Connie Gebhart Cedar Lake

Rebecca Goins Cedar Lake

Samantha Grigsby Cedar Lake

Laura Hall Cedar Lake

Sandra Hanley Cedar Lake

Patsy Hensley Cedar Lake

Vicki Hickman Cedar Lake

Ima Holland Cedar Lake

Renata Ingram Cedar Lake

Debbie Jackson Cedar Lake

Michael Jeffries Cedar Lake

Amanda Jones Cedar Lake

Michele Kidd Cedar Lake

William Kiser Cedar Lake

Amy Klumb Cedar Lake

Deborah Kopp Cedar Lake

Kandice Lane Cedar Lake

LeAnna Liter Cedar Lake

Harry Lyons Cedar Lake

Doris Marple Cedar Lake

Bonnie Meadows Cedar Lake

Donna Mershall Cedar Lake

Brianna Miller Cedar Lake

Leslie Mills Cedar Lake

Joyce Monroe Cedar Lake

Leslie Nussbaum Cedar Lake

Donna Ouellette Cedar Lake

Rebecca Payton Cedar Lake

Theresa Payton Cedar Lake

Nora Perkinson Cedar Lake

Candice Perry Cedar Lake

Jennifer Phelps Cedar Lake

Gene Potts Cedar Lake

Theresa Powell Cedar Lake

Tomasa Rogers Cedar Lake

Maria Rojas Cedar Lake

Lori Saylor Cedar Lake

Jaleesia Smith Cedar Lake

Karen Smith Cedar Lake

Stephanie Stivers Cedar Lake

Allyssa Storey Cedar Lake

Sheree Stucker Cedar Lake

Amanda Teelucksingh Cedar Lake

Kena Thomas Cedar Lake

Mary Thornton Cedar Lake

Ryan Timberlake Cedar Lake

Danyel Tingle Cedar Lake

Christopher Travis Cedar Lake

Tiffany Troxell Cedar Lake

Paula Tuttle Cedar Lake

Mary Ullman Cedar Lake

Tiffany Ullman Cedar Lake

Amberley Van Cedar Lake

Tammy Vanover Cedar Lake

Shannon Vogel Cedar Lake

Blanca Wade Cedar Lake

Rebecca Washburn Cedar Lake

Jennifer Webb Cedar Lake

Hazel White Cedar Lake

Kermit White Cedar Lake

Theresa Wigginton Cedar Lake

Harli Williams Cedar Lake

Janice Wilson Cedar Lake

James Witt Cedar Lake

Rose Witt Cedar Lake

Amegan Zaring Cedar Lake

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Waste not, want not....

Today I had the great honor of facilitating the final session of six regional New York State OPWDD DSP Dialogues in Happauge, Long Island.  Since July of this year, Joe Macbeth, Executive Director NADSP (National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals)and Assistant Executive Director at NYSACRA (New York State Association of Community and Residential Agencies) and myself have toured New York State and talked with DSPs. 

NYS OPWDD, under the thoughtful direction of Commissioner Courtney Burke, has created this forum for the front-line workforce to share opinions, views, thoughts and suggestions to the leadership of the state for the sake of improving services and supports to people with developmental disabilities.

One theme that struck me today as the DSPs discussed their viewpoints was the issue of waste.  In our system Direct Support Professionals are constantly on the receiving end of directives to save money or they are told that there is "no money" for things.  Several DSPs shared that in their opinion they see lots of wasteful spending.  One of the participants in today's session said that she would love to see staff members be conscious of the use and misuse of lighting and electricity. She made the connection that if in all the homes of her agency, let alone the state and country, had conscientious DSPs and staff members observing energy awareness and energy savings, the result over a long-term would be awesome. She indicated that perhaps if wasteful behavior was monitored and people took responsibility for the consumption  of energy, products, food and so forth, that there would be more funds to do good and meaningful "things" with the people supported.

This may seem obvious to the reader but in actuality many DSPs in the room today felt very much in agreement with this issue and were of the mind that to waste not is to want not.  Furthermore, it is the job of the DSP to be aware of the consumption of resources and materials used in the day to day support of people with disabilities.  This will allow for the funding to continue for important things and not be wasted on items that can be controlled. This connects to the skill standard and DSP Competency of Organizational Participation.  The competent DSP will be aware and informed about the utility policy of an organization in which they are employed. This shall include understanding the impact of energy savings and conservation on the organization and the people supported.

More agency administrators and policy makers need to listen to the wisdom of DSPs!!!  They get it!!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Japan's thoughtful, interesting, stylish AND ACCESSIBLE bathrooms

This was an accessibility sign for a bathroom complex in Japan. Note the array of "who" gets barrier freedom and accessibility.....This signage was also in Braille and was a "talking" (two languages, Japanese and English) sign as well. Really cool!!
No Direct Support Professional content to speak of in this blog......but it does celebrate thoughtful bathroom technology and design for people with disabilities.....This is a really quick blog entry to share some photos of a bathroom in Japan, with a focus on how lovely and stylish it was, especially as many bathrooms I encountered throughout Japan are keenly designed with accessibility and barrier freedom in mind.  It took us the ADA of 1990 to legislate access in the United States. Japan is doing it with style and without legislation to my immediate knowledge.

Note the rails and the size of urinal for men to use for going # 1.  The space around the urinal is also very roomy and the perimeter will allow and is designed for comfort of standing from a wheelchair without blocking other "customers". It is also the first urinal in the is not "hidden, separate or at the end of the line".  Loved it.   

The other cool designs in the potty were the "family-with-infant-friendly" stalls.....I am not talking about changing stations (yes they had those.....really clean ones by the way!!) but see this next photo and note the left side.....

The seat on the left side of the picture is an infant"holding-seat" so when mom, dad or whomever is with small-fry, they can place the kiddo in this carrier as to not worry about the child rolling or crawling on the floor.  Clever, safe and a statement of the value of children and parents in this society.  The toilet seat is heated, has a built-in bidet and completely accessible for wheelchair users and people needing more space to do their business.  

Washing up is very important!  Here are the most stylish sinks going!!  Each sink is fully automated, low enough for children to use and the sinks are designed for people who use wheelchairs or adaptive devices to be able to comfortably access soap, sink and drying devices.....they use the Dyson Dry-Blade technology...I did not get a photo, sorry....there were several dryers conveniently and thoughtfully situated.

Not a great photo to see that the wash stations were very spacious and accessible. The sinks and adjacent tables seemed to lower and raise to meet the needs of the "washer"....

Ok....I hope you enjoyed my show and tell.....The reality is I am back from Japan, it is 2:30 in the morning and I am Jet-Lagged out of my mind!!  Strange blog entry perhaps.....but hey, it is my blog. I will get back to more Direct Support next time.....

brief note:  No status update on my mother-in-law to speak of.  Status-quo.....My wife and daughter still there for support and care.....thoughts and prayers are welcomed at this time for her.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Japanese Direct Support/ Privacy and Confidentiality

I am in Japan for a family medical emergency. My mother-in-law, who is Japanese, is in the hospital and we needed to come immediately to be with her.  In my experience at the hospital over the last few days I have witnessed lots of direct support "moments" in a Japanese light.  The support I have been observing is more medical than not but still it is a variation of direct support worth noting. A few reflections about confidentiality and privacy;

The Japanese are incredibly modest people.  Maybe we can take some direct support lessons from this cultural value...

In a moment of intimate care, I observed the steps and care for confidentiality and promoting physical and emotional well-being made by her direct support assistant.  This direct support professional ensured my mother-in-law was treated respectfully and privately as she shares a room with 5 other people and uses a commode next to her bed.  I happened to come back into the room well before my mother in law was completed and the DSP was clearly and adamantly not allowing me back in her bed space or near her until  all was finished.  The DSP stood "sentry" with her and also assisted with all those important details associated with cleaning up and sanitizing following the personal "event".  This person was very respectful to me but was putting her allegiance with my mother in law first. Even as a close family member, I was told that I was not welcome back until the scene was dignified, safe and respectful for everyone, mostly my mother in law who was in a very compromising and private moment in an EXTREMELY public setting.

This may sound that it is not such a unique thing....well, I have spent LOTS of time in hospitals as a social worker and family member.  At least in my experiences, privacy is often unheard of. Curtains and doors exist but seemingly in most hospital environments in America one can be sure to be seeing all sorts of intimate things happen.  Heck, why do we even have those federal HIPAA Laws??  Well, some of the rationale for HIPAA is to prevent medical personnel from blabbing about patient's private health matters in public settings i.e.; hallways, waiting rooms, shared spaces, documentation, etc.....confidentiality is precious.  We lack it big time in our culture comparatively to the Japanese. And, in situations beyond a hospital setting, whether a group home or a setting that hosts people with disabilities in some congregate way, I have time and again been confronted with situations whereby professionals disregard the privacy and confidentiality of those they are serving.  I could devote an entire blog to that theme!

This one small interaction with a Japanese Medical DSP was illuminating in regards to the culture here but more-so was a validation for me about the power and efficacy of confidentiality as an ethical obligation and a best practice. This should be the case anywhere. Thanks for that brief moment with a dedicated professional in a Tokyo hospital I was reminded of the importance of this value and ethical code.

Here is a snapshot from the hospital in Tokyo, Japan where I am spending some important time with my family. Please note my wife, mother in law and daughter.  My daughter is the budding future DSP in the lower right corner of the picture assisting her grandmother with some artwork activities.

I will be observing more Japanese "DSP stuff" and will be sure to report to you more before I leave if I get the opportunity.  But as I said before,  I am here based on some serious developments in my mother in law's health so, of course, that must come first.  Please keep us in your thoughts.   More soon!!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

No-member November? So... Be a member in December

Silly title to this blog but will make sense in a second.

Direct Support Professionals, according to the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals National Skill Standards, must engage in Organizational Participation.  This is a competency and skill requirement. Simply put, this means that DSPs have a professional role to be part of a larger world; they must see beyond the shift they are working, the particular setting in which they practice and even beyond the agency or provider for whom they are employed. They need to be members of their employer's various committees and work groups. DSPs should be members of community associations and organizations.  And most importantly, Direct Support Professionals need to be a member of THEIR OWN professional organization.....and they have one!!

 The relatively few numbers of Direct Support Professionals who are registered members of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals as compared to the estimated millions of people doing Direct Support in the United States is evidence to me that there is a need for spreading the word about professional membership in one's own trade organization.

Now, look, this is not necessarily an advertisement for the NADSP however it is a suggestion to all of you who are reading this to tell your colleagues about the benefits of being part of a "larger voice".  If you are not a member yourself, please consider joining. The whole purpose of professional trade organizations is to expand the body of knowledge of the profession, to provide networking possibilities for it's members and to help boost the recognition and importance of the particular craft or profession; and in our case the Direct Support Profession.  

Professional Membership Associations provide:
      An opportunity to be part of a larger, state, regional and national movement
      A seat at the table during Policy discussions
      Opportunities to Participate in Training & Networking Activities
      Newsletters, websites, social networking sites and other means of communication to learn about issues that are important to them
A sense of professional empowerment and status...(this information taken from a power point presentation NADSP does around the country promoting the profession)

It so happens that the major organization in the USA that is doing such advocacy and development work on behalf of DSPs is the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals....please see the website NADSP.

Many states have chapters of the NADSP such as, New York State's DSPANYS (Direct Support Professional Alliance of NY State and Ohio which has, OADSP Ohio Alliance for Direct Support Professionals. There are many, many more state chapters which you can check out on the NADSP home page.

The point to today's blog is simple.  If you are a Direct Support Professional and want to be a bigger part of a movement to improve your craft and profession, become affiliated with more people who are also looking at the same future and growth as you.  If you are not a member of your professional association in a member in December. Details to join NADSP and state affiliates are on the NADSP website.  And, if you are a member, recruit others to make our voice and mission louder! 

Remember to become a member!!!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving for DSPs!!

It is Thanksgiving Eve 2012.  There over 1,000,000 Direct Support Professionals throughout the United States right now doing incredible work to make sure that the people they support are given a Happy Thanksgiving.  I can see it now....The overnight shift tonight will be preparing the turkeys, tofurkeys and all the (longer-to-prepare) items, tomorrow the morning shift will ensure that family visits are organized and that all the details of the day are in order and that stuffing is prepared and pies are cooked and that people who are supported with dietary and food consistency needs will have chopped/pureed and tasty Thanksgiving fare.... Tomorrow's afternoon and evening shift DSPs will assist and support countless people in celebrating our rich American tradition of Thanksgiving.  In all there will also be countless Direct Support Professionals who are not on shift this Thanksgiving who will be bringing some of the people they support (who may not have family) to their personal family gatherings.  Moreover, I can also imagine and guarantee that there will also be lots of Direct Support staff not scheduled to work tomorrow who will end up visiting the people they support anyway!

Yes, DSPs are dedicated year round but ....they really tend to be ultra-sensitive and involved with the folks they serve during the holidays.

Countless people who are lovingly supported by Direct Support Professionals often have no voice to say thank you.  Or, sometimes there is not a thank you given for whatever reason. Trust me, they are very thankful to you.

Today, on Thanksgiving Eve, I would like to on behalf of all the people who depend on DSPs all year, and on behalf of myself, the NADSP and all the providers and families who rely on you......

THANK YOU!!!   Happy Thanksgiving

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Paycheck People

Direct Support PAYCHECK PEOPLE.  DSPPs....yikes o rama!!!   This sounds like a negative post is about to occur.  I would disagree. Here is why....

Over the course of the past few years  I have facilitated dozens, if not hundreds, of Direct Support Professional Public Forums all around the country. During these sessions Direct Support Professionals are given the rare opportunity to talk about their craft and their noble profession in an open and non judgmental yet facilitated manner.  Generally there is a topic or theme that start the sessions and often the DSPs expand and dialog well past our allotted time for the session.  We often hate to end these rich and wonderful conversations, but DSPs must get back to their "shifts".

Almost always there is mention of "The Paycheck People".  From California to NY. North Dakota to Texas......DSPs speak of the "Paycheck People". It sounds like a lost tribe of humans who wander from agency to agency...provider to provider in search of the holy paycheck.  Well, I suppose it is not far from that, this notion of "The Paycheck People".

DSPs will describe these folks as doing direct support work at the bare minimum standard. DSPPs (Direct Support Paycheck People) are seemingly in all organizations and are the staff who no one seems to like. They are staff who DO NOT know the people they support.  They are often staff who bring morale and spirits down. They are staff who are NOT following and abiding to the policies of the organization, the rules of the game and often will be the texters, cell phone users, sleepers and late-comers.....oh, the Paycheck People are known to call out frequently, often around this time of year....the holidays....(I guess they have to spend the money they are getting).....

One more thing...Paycheck People do not follow one of the main tenets in the NADSP Code of Ethics; Integrity and Responsibility.  It appears to me that if the Paycheck People begin to follow this part of the Code, then we will all be well.  If Direct Support Professionals deny this ethical obligation, then we must do all in our legal and moral power to remove them from our field. If you have some paycheck people running around (they probably don't do much of that) but figuratively if they are running around your organization, then get them out!!!  I will close this entry with the hallowed code of Integrity and Responsibility. 

It states:
As a DSP, I will support the mission and vitality of my profession to assist people in leading self-directed lives and to foster a spirit of partnership with the people I support, other professionals, and the community.
As a DSP, I will:
  • Be conscious of my own values and how they influence my professional decisions.
  • Maintain competency in my profession through learning and ongoing communication with others.
  • Assume responsibility and accountability for my decisions and actions.
  • Actively seek advice and guidance on ethical issues from others as needed when making decisions.
  • Recognize the importance of modeling valued behaviors to co-workers, persons receiving support, and the community at-large.
  • Practice responsible work habits.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

DSP Power

I am just home from a whirlwind mini-tour!  I was in Albany, NY, Wappingers Falls, NY and Annapolis, Maryland in the span of three and a half days.....I traveled with my colleague, friend and DSP advocacy-partner, Executive Director of NADSP, and Assistant Executive Director of NYSACRA, Mr. Joseph Macbeth.  In those three and a half days we had the great honor, privilege, responsibility and opportunity to meet over 400 Direct Support Professionals from many, many provider agencies. We were sharing the NADSP Code of Ethics (a major subject in the next blogs) and Direct Support Skill Standards and Competencies. Wow...sounds so exciting!!??  Well, was.

There is an amazing power and a spirit in the unity and collective voice of Direct Support Professionals. In fact, in these past few days I have been overwhelmed at the power of DSPs voices and spirits as they relate their heartfelt stories to us.  We spoke with people from a wide variety of settings and agencies.  The common theme at every session was in the incredible joy and pride that comes through these stories DSPs share in the work they do with people they support.  It is palpable and measurable and the passion coming from them is inspiring.

Power defined....(at least by Wikipedia).....Power is the rate at which energy is transferred, used, or transformed. The unit of power is the joule per second (J/s), known as the watt (in honor of James Watt, the eighteenth-century developer of the steam engine). For example, the rate at which a light bulb transforms electrical energy into heat and light is measured in watts—the more wattage, the more power, or equivalently the more electrical energy is used per unit time.[1][2]
Energy transfer can be used to do work, so power is also the rate at which this work is performed. The same amount of work is done when carrying a load up a flight of stairs whether the person carrying it walks or runs, but more power is expended during the running because the work is done in a shorter amount of time. The output power of an electric motor is the product of the torque the motor generates and the angular velocity of its output shaft. The power expended to move a vehicle is the product of the traction force of the wheels and the velocity of the vehicle.

Power in this sense is positive.  Power is about continuation, life-force and sustainability. In this sense it is a positive thing/attribute. This is really interesting and compelling in terms of supporting people with disabilities.  In our industry of developmental disability service, the concept of power has been demonized, bastardized and made into a negative. Ultimately, in my opinion power can be a tool and force if used and perceived in the right way. 

The power that I felt and heard in the words, stories and activities of the DSPs in the past several days is an indication of how people with disabilities are being supported in NY and in Maryland, we are in very good shape.  Power is not necessarily a bad thing.... unless it is used against people.  Most of the staff I met on this trip were using power and Participant EmPOWERment (one of the NADSP Skill Standards) in very real, positive and loving ways, all in support and advocacy with people they served.

DSP-Power, if it is ethical and competent, may just be what will save our world! 

More power to the ethical and competent DSPs I met this last few days!!!  We need you.  We appreciate you.  We love you!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Training is for dogs....

Woof, woof.....sit Rover.  Roll over Rover.  Here's a biscuit, Rover.....Good dog.  Yup, Rover is being trained.  He gets the treat for the behavior he presents to his proud owner. This is largely accepted and generally is the way we train animals.

Training  for Direct Support Professionals is similar.  Once a year DSPs will need to take regulatory "trainings" and only rarely they will get to go to a really educational and inspirational session at some afternoon conference or something like that.  But mostly they will take 8 or 9 "mandated" annual courses like CPR, Blood Exposure/Control, Corporate Compliance, First Aid etc...These are important.  Do not get me wrong.   HOWEVER, these are usually conducted in a way not unlike the dog scenario above.  Usually (not always but very often) the trainings are done, sign-in sheets are documented, and another year goes by until the DSP goes to next dry and frankly boring mandated training.  DSPs should have the opportunities to engage in rich , relevant and meaningful opportunites for educational development.

I am blogging live from such an event.  I am in MALTA, NY at the NYSACRA (New York State Association of Community and Residential Agencies) NYSACRA Capitol District DSP Conference. Over 100 Direct Support Professionals from around the New York State Capitol District (from Glens Falls to Hudson...from the Massachusetts border to Gloversville) are involved in a day-long annual conference devoted to their education and development. This is NOT training....this is enrichment and indeed an educational experience for them. It is a time for them to celebrate their and network. NYSACRA has long valued the front-line workforce and has been at the forefront of the DSP movement in the entire country and this is an annual conference that has record attendance this year.

Nationally recognized speakers and representatives from the NADSP (National Alliance for Direct Support included!) NADSP  will be presenting on topics related to the important work of DSPs. Awards will be given and lunch will be served.  Jeff Covington, Regional Vice President (Capitol District) of NYSACRA and key organizer of this event says, " This is a wonderful opportunity for Direct Support Professionals to learn and grow. With 110 participants it's good to see the commitment providers have to the profession of direct support."

The power of education cannot be underestimated and training is NOT education.

Train dogs....
....Educate professionals.....especially, Direct Support Professionals.....

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

My first blog

Here I am. I sit in my home office and look south, out a round window looking at the glorious Catskill Mountains, and I am about to begin a new life. I have started a new life in a sense with the birth of my daughter exactly 3 years ago and the delightful marriage to my wife of 6 years.  But this new PROFESSIONAL life is all about a movement to improve the lives of well over 1,200,000 people in the United States who call themselves Direct Support Professionals.

Just a few days ago I resigned from a director position at a fairly large human services agency that supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.  It was time for me to fly. I was at this organization 10 years and trained and educated well over 2000 Direct Support Professionals (D.S.P.) over those years.  In that time, I came to realize that I had great influence in helping the incoming "entry-level" understand that the work they were about to enter, Direct Support, was and is a complex and challenging PROFESSION; please take a moment to view the website in this link to prove that being a D.S.P. is a challenging and rewarding career;

The Profession of Direct Support; A Primer 

This blog will be an ongoing look into the mind and heart of ME, a trainer and educator of Direct Support Professionals and be a diary of sorts of my new beginnings as a national/international consultant and advocate for and with Direct Support Professionals.  I am calling the blog Training Wheels because it feels like I am in need of using them, metaphorically, as I meet DSPs and realize that they are often at the very beginning stages of learning about their profession and they also are new to a field that is finally beginning to get rolling in the United States. 

I hope you enjoy the ramblings and ideas that will come as regularly as I can post and I really would LOVE an ongoing comment and conversation string.  So, here I go...I am entering into a new world of blogging and a new world of being self-employed.