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Direct Support Professional: A Job That Changes Lives

A DSP is a Direct Support Professional – you might know them as home health aides, caretakers, or staff. No matter what you call this profession, it is absolutely critical in the lives of people with developmental disabilities. Brooke Miller has been as DSP since 2011, and she can’t imagine doing anything else. “I love being a Direct Support Professional, and I want more people to try it. There is so much good in this job,” she says.

Brook is a Program Coordinator at COR Services, and she provides direct care to people of all ages and abilities. The people who Brook works with have become her family, and this is not uncommon in the DSP world. DSPs understand the needs of those they serve, often better than anyone. They help people with disabilities have a quality of life that otherwise might not be possible. Direct Support Professionals provide care and help with whatever an individual may need. It’s a unique job, because every day is completely different.

Brook helps with cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping. She goes to doctors’ appointments and helps find fun things to do – like karaoke, in one person’s case. She takes the people she serves on daytrips and vacations. She loves helping individuals overcome struggles and experience new things – but she knows how important the small things are, too. “Sometimes, I am just there to listen…listen to how their day was or how they are feeling. Sometimes I just let my people know I am here and I care,” she says.

As a Direct Support Professional, Brook feels most accomplished when she knows she has earned the trust of individuals and their families. She wants loved ones to have complete confidence in her care. It’s rewarding for her to hear from families who appreciate her and thank her for the work she does.

So what happens when a person who needs care doesn’t have a DSP? It doesn’t go well, and the outcome can be tragic. We’re seeing this firsthand, as there is currently a severe shortage of DSPs in our county. Provider agencies cannot hire enough employees to fill the positions, leaving people with substitute care or even worse – no care services at all.

If you are looking for a job or meaningful work, please consider becoming a Direct Support Professional. You will gain valuable experience and help improve the lives of people with disabilities. For more information, visit or call Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities at 419-221-1385 ext. 1036.

Pictured above: Brook and Amy, one of the women she serves, at Niagara Falls.


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