An Overview on Research on the DSP Workforce

Who Is Involved?

This research is conducted by CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership.

When Did It Start?

We began research on DSP workforce issues in 2017 and continue this work today.

What Is The Project?

We utilize the Basic Assurances® and Personal Outcome Measures® to examine DSP workforce issues, and workforce best-practices.

Why Was It Created?

In wake of high DSP turnover and other workforce issues, we sought to understand the impact of workforce issues on people with disabilities, as well as best practices in training and treatment of DSPs.

Where Is The Impact?

Our research indicates that DSP turnover significantly hinders the health, safety, and quality of life of people with disabilities. DSPs play a key role in quality service provision.

How Does It Help The Field?

By utilizing evidenced-based best practices, organizations can promote the tenure and quality of their support staff, and, by extension, the quality of the services provided.

Inside our Research on the DSP Workforce

DSPs are critical for the quality of life and community integration of people with disabilities; they should be recognized and paid accordingly.

Why is it important?

Direct support professionals (DSPs) provide individualized personal assistance to people with disabilities and older adults. They not only provide a wide range of services, but must often balance a complex set of competencies to do so. Despite having to master a complex set of skills, and juggle many different roles, DSPs typically have low wages and a lack of benefits, little training, and lack a career ladder. These reasons all contribute to the very high turnover rate for DSPs.

Our Research

Not only does DSP turnover impact DSPs themselves, it also significantly impacts the services organizations provide to people with disabilities. Our research examines the impact of DSP turnover on people with disabilities, such as its impact on injuries, abuse and neglect, emergency department utilization, and quality of life outcomes. We also examine best-practices in the training and treatment of DSPs, such as how training increases the quality of the supports DSPs provide.

When staff are trained to promote dignity and respect, there is a 61% reduction in 'challenging' behaviors

People with IDD who experience DSP turnover are 2.1 times less likely to have natural support networks

There is a 40% reduction in emergency department visits when organizations implement ongoing staff development

People with IDD who experience DSP turnover are 3.7 times less likely to live in integrated environments

When people with IDD experience DSP turnover, the annual number of injuries they have increases by 146%

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