By Gregory Miller
President/CEO Penn-Mar Human Services
DSP Recognition Week, celebrated September 9-15, recognizes the dedication and accomplishments of outstanding Direct Support Professionals and their vital contributions to communities across the country.
Here at Penn-Mar, managers and administrators have created meaningful experiences for their DSPs to make them feel valued and recognized during this special week. Some of the activities include breakfasts, “afternoons of fun” with food and games, free back messages, VISA gift cards and gift bags, and daily raffles for gift cards and 8-hour vacation days.
And although it’s good to recognize this essential workforce on their special week, there is so much more we need to do. One of our primary strategic objectives is around team member retention and how we are going to change the behavior of our organization so that all of our DSPs feel valued, have a say in their job responsibilities, receive adequate training and are able to make a good living.
At Penn-Mar, we want to be the employer of choice for our DSPs, and the provider of choice for the families and individuals we support. To ensure that valuing people is our top priority, we are putting significant resources behind this pledge to be sure that our DSPs are not leaving us for the wrong reasons.
You might be surprised to learn that very few DSPs leave their employ because they can’t handle the work of supporting people with disabilities. They leave because they don’t feel valued and heard. So it’s our job to change that dynamic by supporting our front line managers to help them lead more effectively.
Admittedly we have high expectations of our DSPs but we also believe that they should have high expectations of us as an employer. Our mission is to ensure that everyone who comes to work at Penn-Mar is interested in being successful at what they do, every day.
That means every manager needs to help the people who work for them be successful. It’s a mindset we need to create that is backed up by solid training.
As the leader of this organization, I don’t want any DSPs or team member leaving us other than for a better opportunity for their family or career.
If a DSP has the choice of 100 places to work, we want them to be saying, “I hope I can get hired at Penn-Mar.”
Why? Because they know we will invest in their career. They will be hired not just to fill a slot but because they want to be part of our mission to Transform life into living. And if we lead our DSPs properly, showing them how everything we do aligns around that purpose and focus, we will continue to attract and retain the best DSPs out there.
While we’re on the topic of excellence, I want to personally congratulate two of Penn-Mar’s outstanding DSPs who have recently been recognized for extraordinary service.
Sade Schofield, one of our Residential Supervisors, has been named Community Living Professional by the Maryland Department of Disabilities (MDOD) and the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA), for being “a DSP who goes above and beyond to support full community participation and membership for those with disabilities.”
In addition, Marion Dyke has been selected as the Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability (PAR) 2018 “We Are Worth It” winner of the Central Region Frontline Manager of the Year Award, a distinction that honors extraordinary Pennsylvanians who have made remarkable contributions to their communities.
In recognition of DSP Recognition Week, please join me in thanking all of our DSPs for their extraordinary efforts every day on behalf of people with disabilities.