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Maine's Direct Service Professionals deserve a livable wage

This petition had 471 supporters

A Direct Service Professional (DSP) is a person who dedicates their life to enhance the lives of individuals with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. The work of a DSP can be extremely challenging and includes many different capacities. Everyday we provide personal care for each client. Some examples of this care include showering, dressing, oral care, toileting, hair care and nail care. We are there to cook for our clients, complete any household chores needed and act as a companion. It is our job to assist our clients in reaching their personal goals as well as teaching them along the way. DSP's are responsible for setting up and transporting to appointments, programs, jobs or any activity that our clients partake in. DSP's also need to keep daily client records. What is kept in these records varies from client to client, but a few examples of what may be documented are: The client's mood, medications, goals, food or drink intake, appointments, transportation and the activities done in a day. We spend each day devoting our time to the lives of others to ensure that those individuals are recieving the highest quality of life possible. 

In order to work as a DSP in an agency, there are many different trainings and courses that need to be completed. First off, there is a DSP course which requires 30-40 online modules which one must read and be tested on. The DSP training also requires two day long live discussion sessions. Most agencies require a CRMA certification, which allows one to administer medications to the clients. As a CRMA, DSP's gain more responsibilties. These responsibilities include ordering medications, taking vital signs, transcribing physician's orders and administering both scheduled and as needed medications. It is also the CRMA's job to have knowledge of each medication that our clients take so that we can be educated of their specific needs and able to consult with doctors, nurses and pharmacists.

Along with the basic duties of a DSP, we are also responsible for understanding each individual that we work with and assisting them with their mental health or behavioral needs. Many agencies require their DSP's to take a MANDT course which teaches the correct ways to restrain a client who may become physically agressive. Many clients who struggle with behaviors can cause physical harm or express verbal anger toward their staff. It is the job of the DSP to know how to handle each situation. This includes knowing and using redirection techniques and the right way to handle an outburst. There are times when a behavior can turn into a crisis. Many times this can put the DSP in danger and it is our responsibility to handle the crisis. Crisis plans vary between agencies and clients.

The purpose of this petition is to acknowledge all of the work a Direct Service Professional does each day. I, myself, have worked in this field for nearly six years and I absolutely love what I do. It is the most rewarding job to enhance the lives of people who may not have the same capabilities. It would be wonderful to be able to work in this field and support my family at the same time. However, as of right now, this is not possible. I have two children and while currently making $10.50 an hour and working 40 hours each week, I am unable to have all of my bills paid and children's financial needs taken care of. I have spent much of my time aquiring all of the needed trainings and certifications and I was shocked to find that I could go apply to the gas station down the road and make fifty cents more than I currently do caring for the lives of human beings. The turnover rate of a DSP is extremely high because this is not a career that can be livable for more than a short period of time. I work with some wonderful people who have dedicated their lives to this and have been with the same company for over twenty and thirty years but even those people have had to aquire a second job in order to support their families. Direct Service Professionals deserve much more than they are accredited. There will always be a need of care for persons with disabilities. Those people deserve the best possible care, they deserve to have staff that truly care about their well being. It takes a certain type of individual to give those people the care that they deserve. In order to ensure this care, DSP's need to be able to live off of the income that they earn. We don't get the luxury of days off because our clients depend on us to be there. We drive to work in snow storms, we miss holidays with our families in order to be at work and we work overnights and weekends.

I greatly appreciate any and all support and I encourarage all DSP's to sign and share this petition with their coworkers, family and friends. We deserve to be recognized for our work, hearts and contributions to society.


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