By Neal Ouellett
Founder and CEO
It wasn’t always this way. Not that long ago people with disabilities were utterly marginalized and, too often, along with them the employees who provided their services.
It wasn’t always this way. Once, services were medically-based, segregated, and often degrading for individuals and their caregivers.
At one time a “Us versus Them” archetype prevailed in the helping professions. We, the professionals, know what is best for you. If you don’t agree, there’s a diagnosis for that. You must be oppositional. Workers at the direct service level were trained to that ethic. For example, if you don’t understand me, you must have a communicative receptive condition. If I don’t understand you, you surely have an expressive disorder.
Likewise, programs were cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all prescriptions, based on a set of beliefs and principles that failed to recognize the uniqueness, gifts, and preferences of people. The potential, talents, and contributions of “direct care workers” were similarly devalued.
And then, remarkably and over time, and not without acrimony there was a revolutionary shift in thought and practice toward supporting people to have a real life. People with disabilities were accepted as equal citizens under the law with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Many individuals, their families, advocates, and service providers worked tirelessly with legislatures and service systems toward a community-based and person-centered approach. The supportive workers in the field were accepted as professionals.
Today the real work of assisting people to have a good life exists in the superb partnerships of individuals seeking support and their incredible Direct Support Professionals.
I am sometimes asked: what motivates people to be caregivers? The yin and yang of helping others, and the satisfaction of being needed and appreciated, has been my answer to that question.
By proclamation, this is the time of year to recognize the contributions of people offering direct support to individuals. Of course, that effort is an every day, year-round affair.
Thank you to all of our dedicated DSP’s for giving selflessly and competently, receiving graciously, handling the challenges of your job with composure, and finding joy in little blessings.
Thank you for caring!
You are the best!