New Frontline Initiative Promotes Self-Care for Direct Support Professionals

Sat Sep 14 2019
Cover of Frontline Initiative, 15(2).

Frontline Initiative, a newsletter for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), devotes its latest issue to the vital importance of self-care. Jointly published by the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals and ICI’s Research and Training Center on Community Living, Frontline Initiative provides resources for DSPs in the publication and celebrates practitioners who incorporate self-care into their work and lives. Self-care may be part of the solution to the problems plaguing the direct support workforce: chronically low pay despite high expectations, rampant turnover, and burnout. And unlike pay raises, self-care is a solution that DSPs themselves can control. DSPs are often expected to put the people they support ahead of their own needs, leading to deteriorating DSP health and wellness that often ends in burnout and resignations. Losing those workers exacerbates the shortage of DSPs, further burdening the DSPs who remain on the job.

To assist the people they support, DSPs must also take care of their own needs, health, and wellness. Incorporating self-care practices into their everyday lives helps DSPs in their work and other life areas. This issue of Frontline Initiative highlights how this helps them continue in the field and improve professionally.

Emotional intelligence and agility, mindful awareness, resilience, compassion fatigue, and trauma-informed care are addressed, as are important physical components, including good nutrition, hydration, and regular activity. DSPs and others featured in the newsletter emphasize the importance of taking time for themselves to process and unwind. The payoff for DSPs: improved stamina throughout the workday, and the year.

“These self-care practices carry over to how we support people,” write editors Julie Kramme and Laurie “Chet” Tschetter, both of whom have worked in direct support. “Self-care practices also help us to better understand ourselves, our colleagues, and the people we support. Understanding, for example, the impact of trauma from our own and others’ experiences helps us to be a more supportive, more compassionate, DSP and colleague.”