Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Hardest Job in Direct Support

I have recently had occasion to meet with and talk with people who supervise and manage direct support professionals. From Portland, Oregon to Portland Maine, I have heard stories of great wonder and stories from hell.  The common theme throughout most of these stories is quite the same.  It is clear that frontline supervisors in the field of direct support have the hardest jobs of all the ranks. Let me explain.

Sherry  (her real name I will change to protect confidentiality) is a manager of a group home somewhere in New England.  She was telling me of a recent time when she was faced with an upcoming state licensing survey of the group home she managed, the training a new DSP, the ongoing support of a person who was in end-of -life care and also a personal issue that seeped into her work.  She indicated that the problem she faces each day that gives her the most concern is hoping that the people in the group home she oversees are "happy".  Sherry admitted to feeling overwhelmed at the impossible task of answering to so many people.  I listened and realized something.

I talk often about the most important people in the system, the people we support and the direct support professionals.  Yes, they are.  However, in the last few weeks, after meeting with hundreds of frontline supervisors, I can conclude this.

Frontline supervisors and managers of direct support professionals have the HARDEST job in direct support.  More power to them.  I hope that in the next few years as standardized frontline competencies unfold that we take some moments to thank the people who have the HARDEST job in direct support.