Ben Richter

DSPs and Remote Supports

A look at how essential DSPs are to remote supports and the people they serve.

This week, the disability services industry is taking time to appreciate and thank Direct Support Professionals(DSPs). Between rampant overtime and the effects of the COVID19 pandemic, we in the industry have many reasons to be thankful they continue to do the great work that they do.

As part of NOSS’ celebration of DSPs we want to clear up a misconception about DSPs and remote supports. It’s commonly thought that remote supports services are intended to replace direct-care staff. This simply isn’t true. In fact, it’s the opposite. Without DSPs, remote supports couldn’t happen. Here are three reasons why.

First, when individuals with disabilities choose to use remote supports, many want to try before they buy, so to speak. Often times, NOSS will install the system and provide services for a specific, limited number of hours to get them accustomed to the service. What does this have to do with DSPs? Well DSPs are essential in this trial process. They support the individual, help them to understand and communicate their likes and dislikes about the system and service, and overall help facilitate the transition. Without this strong bedrock of DSP supports, adding remote supports as a service can be less smooth. Individuals who are trying out remote supports who know they have a solid DSP support to fall back on if remote support doesn’t work out have more freedom to choose to use the service in a self-determined manner, based on its merits.

Secondly, when DSP-based services and remote supports serve individuals at different times during the day, say if an individual has a DSP in their home during the daytime and Remote Support Professionals (RSPs) overnight, there are many instances where DSPs provide information that is helpful to providing the best remote support. On a day-to-day basis, these DSPs are the ones interacting with individuals they support the most, and can provide current info about the person’s day, how they’re feeling, what they accomplished, and what we can do to help support them during our next shift. This information is invaluable when it comes to providing successful remote supports, and that level of quality can only come as a result of the work DSPs do.

Finally, and most importantly, DSPs form a core component of remote supports services, the responders or backup staff. These are the people that physically travel to the individual’s home to help them out when they need in-person assistance. Without these DSPs to physically go to the person’s home to help them, remote supports would not be safe or effective. It is precisely this component, the capacity for DSPs to be quickly dispatched to the home, that allows remote supports to be a safe service for individuals.

Even as technology continues to become a larger part of the supports individuals with disabilities receive, DSPs will maintain their place as the core, the heart, of those services. There aren’t enough as it is, and we’ll only need more in the future. We at NOSS honor and thank the tireless professionals who make it their life’s work to help people with disabilities achieve their goals.