The Direct Support Professional, Grafton’s Investment into Its Greatest Resource

Watching a well-prepared direct support professional deliver day-to-day therapeutic treatment in real time can seem like you’re witnessing a miracle. This is where all of the creative problem solving, barrier hurdling theories (medical and otherwise) of multi-disciplinary support teams “hit the floor.”It’s where the “rubber meets the road” for service delivery.

Direct support professionals (DSPs) put ideas and thoughts captured in individualized education plans (IEPs) and service plans into action. They immerse themselves in the environment and world of the client, and they find creative and effective ways to provide skill building instruction to oftentimes unwilling participants, with the goal of teaching and guiding an individual to lead a meaningful life within their least restrictive environment or chosen community.


To complete this monumental task, one must be well versed in many areas. Some competencies of a well rounded DSP include proficiency in: medication management, client wellness, preventative health care (nutrition and exercise), dental/oral health, the ability to identify, signs and symptoms of illness and injury, risk management and safety, modes of communication identifying client choice, person-centered planning, the ability to deliver behavior supports, and proficiency in the various associated with client learning (i.e. trauma informed care, rehabilitation, etc.), to name a few.

To that end, Grafton recently made an investment into getting all DSP staff QPPMH (Qualified Paraprofessional in Mental Health) certified, once again demonstrating the company’s commitment to maintaining integrity of treatment by increasing the competency of those who deliver it.

This was the first time a mass training of all DSPs of such magnitude had ever been rolled out at Grafton. It required the complete co-operation of all departments and individuals involved, and it went off with almost no hiccups. Nothing short of amazing. As one participant remarked, this was the Grafton “family” at its best.

To further invest in keeping the“ professional” in the direct support professional, Grafton Richmond Region plans to roll out an initiative with the same name. The objective of the “Keeping the “P” in the DSP” sessions will be to create a forum where open dialogue among DSPs can examine new trends that affect the company and industry, as well as their role managing them, and ongoing areas of service delivery to determine how best to maintain integrity in client treatment. The presenters will utilize a “guided facilitation” conversation model in leading the session groups to a shared understanding. During the sessions, we also hope to gather useful information from the “grass roots” level that can be offered/used in making improvements within the organization, where applicable.