November 2023

A powerful new issue of Frontline Initiative guides direct support professionals through the ethical dilemmas they face each day in supporting people with disabilities to live their fullest lives.

The new issue highlights the nine tenets of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) Code of Ethics, with videos created in partnership with the Institute on Community Integration that explain each one and articles that offer context and examples DSPs can use in their everyday work.

ICI Director Amy Hewitt, one of the professionals involved in creating the code in 2000, shares its history and the organizations that participated in its creation.

“DSPs who support people in the community will always be called upon to make independent judgments involving both practical and ethical reasoning,” Hewitt writes. “[The code] is a roadmap to assist DSPs in staying the course of securing freedom, justice, and equity for everyone they support.”

Joseph Macbeth, NADSP president and chief executive officer, shares a few of his own ethical lessons learned from early in his career as a DSP, and writes about the critical importance of having a code.

“DSPs must exemplify ethical practice, high standards, and creative vision as they partner with those they support in order to access community and make everyday choices about personal finances, physical well-being, social and intimate relationships, and employment,” Macbeth writes. “There are numerous pressures coming from organizations, government, social policy, and societal prejudice that can shift focus and allegiance away from the people who are being supported.”

Given the high turnover in the DSP field, it was important to dedicate an issue of the online publication to highlighting the importance of the code for people who may not be familiar with it, said Julie Kramme, co-editor of Frontline Initiative.

“There is so much ethical behavior that goes into understanding the person being supported, their wants, needs, preferences, and long-term goals,” Kramme said.

In her article in the new issue, DSP Cheryl Nelson calls the code of ethics the most valuable guide in a DSP’s toolbox.

“It drives a DSP to think both critically and ethically within their day-to-day decision-making,” she writes. “The people I support benefit from having a DSP who knows and understands this code, particularly when offering person-centered support.”

Chet Tschetter, co-editor, said several of the issue’s authors have earned electronic badges through NADSP E-Badge Academy , advanced certifications and sharing their credentials and stories is another way to elevate the profession.

“This is a big, in-depth issue, with examples of decisions in each tenet of the code,” Tschetter said. “The people who created the tenets really thought about the different aspects of people’s lives and they understood this work isn’t all black and white, but has important nuances.”

Frontline Initiative also recently launched a podcast series, A Closer Look.

“The podcast gives DSPs another opportunity to talk about the work and learn from experts and colleagues,” Tschetter said.