Share This Post

A Program To ‘Empower’ The Quality Of Life For DSPs

Submitted By: Brandon Jerla, Empower

We have found that not only do we need to improve the quality of life for the people we support but also for our staff members as well. Due to this, Empower decided to launch a new Employee Assistance Program (EAP) initiative that concentrated on the areas that people struggle with on a day-to-day basis.

As a whole, this program is used to help with our general recruitment efforts. We have found that it draws in new direct support professional (DSP) hires because they see that we are focusing on and fostering their overall growth. By doing that, it increases our retention rates.

Impact Of The Program

On a personal level, many DSPs have thanked us for bringing this program to our organization. It gives people a chance to reach out and speak to someone that could assist them in their everyday struggles.

“The counseling program gave me an opportunity to talk about my life stressors which then helped me become a more reliable employee.”

Maggie, Direct Support Professional

Many of our DSPs are now able to find strength within the program, which then helps them utilize the initiative on a more consistent basis. One aspect of the EAP initiative gives people the chance to repair economic hardship in the form of a loan, to get their family into a better situation.

Steps To Implement A Similar DSP Program

While organizations may already have an EAP, it’s important to consider if they have the right EAP that fits with the overall values and goals of their agency. Reaching out to different companies and having meetings is important to get a feel for who and what they are about. Aligning with your core values and mission is important to form this partnership.

  1. Reach out to area organizations that offer EAPs
  2. Research the different programs they offer and pricing
  3. Find the one that best aligns with your goals and values of the organization
  4. Launch the EAP within the agency
  5. Market and advertise it to all divisions
  6. Have representatives come out and speak about the different specifics
  7. Get employees involved as much as possible – remember they are your most important assets!

About Empower

Empower is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization founded in 1954. The organization empowers people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their loved ones through a range of supports and services including educational/children’s services, job training and day programs, and community housing and living services. Its core values involve inclusion, dignity, excellence, accountability, and leadership. Empower is located in Niagara County, NY and employs 300 people.

2021 National DSP Recognition Week

For 2021 National DSP Recognition Week, CQL and NADSP are sharing specific organization-wide initiatives that lift up and bolster direct support professionals (DSPs) throughout the entire year. These include significant, long-lasting, and meaningful actions that have far-reaching effects on DSPs. By sharing these initiatives, other human service providers can both learn about and replicate these efforts to build up the DSP workforce. This is also an opportunity to highlight the programs your organization has developed to strengthen DSPs.

# # #

Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.