It is important that you know about both the challenges and the rewards of direct support work before applying for a job with Dungarvin. Please review the information within this Realistic Job Preview to better understand your role in supporting other people with varying abilities and challenges, before making a decision to work with us.
What is Direct Support?
Dungarvin provides a variety of supports to people with disabilities in their homes or on the job. Most of these individuals need assistance with a variety of day-to-day events such as: household chores, getting ready for work, going out and having fun with friends and family, meeting new people and being active members in community organizations and places of worship, running errands like going to the bank, the doctor, or the grocery store, or performing work tasks.
As a direct support professional, you will spend most of your shift in direct contact with the people who need assistance. Some persons with disabilities require only minor assistance, for example, help with going to the bank. Others need significant daily assistance with activities such as bathing, dressing, and eating. Your specific duties will vary, depending on your location, the people you support and the hours you work.
We want the persons we support to be a part of their community, so you may spend some of your work hours “out and about”. You could be involved in various community activities such as going to a movie, attending a sporting event or enjoying a picnic at a park.
Requirements for Direct Support
The requirements for getting a job in direct support are not many. In order to become a Dungarvin employee, you must be at least 18 years of age, have a high school diploma or GED, and possess basic computer skills. You will also need a valid driver’s license and an acceptable driving record. You cannot have been convicted of a felony in any state.
Your availability to work shifts that occur in the days, evenings, overnights, early mornings, weekends and holidays will be important. We provide supports around the clock for many of the persons we serve; therefore, we need staff who are willing to be flexible in their work schedules. Once you are employed, there are many skills you must master to do the job well. We will train you on the specific tasks you need to succeed. Being reliable is very important as is a desire to help people live better lives and to share your own unique talents.
What Direct Support Professionals Do at Work
As a direct support professional, you will support people in their homes or at their jobs. You may be providing assistance with cooking meals, house cleaning, or laundry. For some individuals, you may be helping with personal care such as bathing, dressing or eating. You may be assisting people to take their medication or to exercise. The range of job duties in which you may be involved differs according to the individuals with whom you work.
While there are plenty of responsibilities in direct support work, perks of the job include a sense of accomplishment, having fun, getting to know unique people, and participating in new experiences. If you have not spent much time around people with disabilities, it can be hard to know if this job is for you. Many people find the work of providing direct support to people with intellectual and physical disabilities is a rewarding and enjoyable career.
Other Duties Include Documentation, Communication & Following Regulations
While the primary role of a direct support professional is to provide daily support at home, on the job and in the community, other important parts of the job include:
- Understanding and following the many county, state and federal rules and regulations that govern this type of service.
- Attending regular training and staff meetings, which may be at times and/or at locations different than your regular shift schedule.
- Reading, writing, basic math and computer skills are required to process a variety of documents such as daily logs or medical logs.
- Communicating with family members, case managers and professionals such as nurses or physicians.
- Using alternative communication systems designed for the people you support — for example communication booklets, electronic talkers, or basic sign language.
- Driving the people you support, either in a company-owned vehicle or your own vehicle, to places they want to go.
Scheduling, Pay and Benefits
Dungarvin work shifts include evenings, mornings, days, weekends and overnights. Many of the people served by Dungarvin cannot be left alone in their homes or on the job, therefore, it is very important that you show up for scheduled shifts on time and work on scheduled holidays. Benefits are based on the number of hours you are hired to work each week. Employees are paid for all Dungarvin training hours.
Training, Orientation and Support
Because there is a lot to learn in direct support, sometimes new workers feel overwhelmed or unsure about what they are doing for the first several weeks on the job. To help you with this transition, Dungarvin provides you with a three-month training and orientation period to give you time to learn the skills you need on the job. New employees must be able to pass training classes and demonstrate basic competency by the completion of their 90 day orientation period.
After the first 90 days, it will be your responsibility to sign up for and attend additional required training sessions and to assist your supervisor in identifying your training and development needs. You are required to attend group training sessions and have individual training sessions with your co-workers and your supervisor.
All new staff have questions. If you come to work for Dungarvin, and you are not sure of something, it will be important to ask questions directly to your co-workers, the people you support, and your supervisor to get the right information.
The staff in Dungarvin services work together in teams. You will be given the opportunity to talk about your work and to network with co-workers and with your supervisor at scheduled, mandatory staff meetings.
Challenging Behaviors & Behavior Support Plans
Some of the people who receive supports from Dungarvin have challenging behaviors. This might mean that, depending on the situation, a person who you are supporting could yell at you, call you names, pinch you, spit on you, throw something at you or hit you. This may sound scary at first, but with training, many new direct support staff with no prior experience have learned how to respond to people in a way that helps them calm down and move on. You would not be sent to work with people who have challenging behaviors without knowledge or specific training on how to prevent these situations and how to handle them when they occur.
You may find you are good at counseling and supporting people with these needs and will enjoy watching their progress and sharing in their success. Many people with these types of behaviors have been able to change with the help of competent and caring support workers.
Many people who have challenging behaviors also work with psychologists or behavior specialists. These professionals work with direct support staff to develop and implement plans designed specifically to help people with challenging behaviors learn new positive ways of expressing themselves. As a direct support staff, you will receive training on these plans. You will need to keep accurate records and share information clearly with others. You will be the most important person in helping the person with challenging behaviors be successful.
Significant Health and Personal Care Needs, Medication Administration & Medical Appointments
Dungarvin supports many people who have physical disabilities and who need assistance such as transferring from a bed to a wheelchair, from a wheelchair onto a toilet, or from a wheelchair into a bathtub. Although in many situations you will have equipment to assist you, to support these individuals it will be important that you are able to lift 50 pounds or more. Some individuals may also need assistance with all of their self-care needs, including help in changing adult disposable briefs.
Providing personal care tasks and medical treatments can be awkward at first, but remembering to extend the same courtesies toward people with disabilities that you would expect (such as a respectful manner, attending to privacy, being calm and gentle), will go a long way in keeping both you and the people you support comfortable during personal care.
Depending on the state location, direct support professionals may be expected to take a course in medication administration, first aid, and CPR. Once trained, you will give medications to people to whom they are prescribed. Direct support staff may also provide certain prescribed medical treatments, such as tube feeding, glucose testing, or administering suppositories. Although in some Dungarvin locations nurses are available to train you, provide consultation, and to ensure your competence, they are usually not on duty while you work. You will be expected to document all of the medications you administer and all of the treatments you provide each and every time you complete these tasks. You will also be responsible for monitoring the general health and safety of all the people who you support.
On occasion, you might be asked to take a person to a medical or dental appointment. It is extremely important that people do not miss these appointments, so you must be on time (usually 10-15 minutes before a scheduled appointment). For each appointment, you will need to be prepared to speak with medical professionals by reviewing the person’s medical notes and other information prior to the appointment and completing follow-up after the appointment, including accurate documentation.
Who Would Make Good Direct Support Professional?
How do you know you will be good at direct support work? Here are some of the traits of a good direct support professional:
- Caring and compassionate
- Honest and loyal
- Accepting of others as they are
- Flexible and dependable
- Shows initiative and creativity
- Hard working and a team player
- Interested in learning
- Good at communicating with others
- Respectful of other people
If you feel you would be good at direct support, Dungarvin might be the place for you. There are many opportunities for paid training and for growth and promotion within the agency. For many people who work at Dungarvin, the best thing about working here is the people, both their co-workers and the people they support.
You have completed the Dungarvin direct support realistic job preview. We hope you are ready to join the Dungarvin team! If you think you would like a job in this field, there are openings today at Dungarvin locations across the country. You may view job openings through this website by visiting our employment section and clicking on apply now.
If you have specific questions you would like answered, you can e-mail your questions by visiting the state page where you are interested in working and clicking on the link for contact us, or call us.