Already a Patient? Call 212-476-0905

Table of Contents

What Is a DSP Caregiver in New York City?

If you’re searching for home care services for yourself or a loved one or are interested in becoming a caregiver yourself, you might have heard the term “DSP.” As of 2019, 4.5 million people in the U.S. worked as “DSPs,” or “Direct Support Professionals.”

The role of a DSP is a complex but rewarding one. Not only do DSPs act as “personal assistants” of sorts with daily tasks, they also strategize to ensure accommodation and inclusion for their clients in their communities.

Read on to learn more about what DSPs do and how to become one in New York City.

Key Takeaways

  • A DSP, or “Direct Support Professional,” helps clients with intellectual or developmental disabilities with daily tasks, and also assists with emotional support, community integration, and job coaching.
  • DSPs offer support with daily tasks, but also look for ways for their clients to be better accommodated and empowered in their daily lives.
  • A DSP training certificate program typically takes about 100 hours (one year of experience working with disabled individuals may also suffice).
  • Other requirements to become a DSP include a high school diploma or GED, valid driver’s license, a background check, and a medical screening.

What Is a DSP Caregiver?

DSP caregivers offer crucial support and services to people with disabilities (primarily people with developmental disabilities or intellectual disabilities). The term “DSP” stands for “Direct Support Professional.” While DSP caregivers were traditionally simply caregivers who assisted with activities of daily living, the role of a DSP has shifted and expanded in recent years.

Now, DSPs often offer on-the-job support and coaching at work, develop creative ways for their clients’ needs to be accommodated in their daily lives, and support engagement in their clients’ communities. 

Not only do DSPs provide for everyday needs like administering medications and transportation, they also work on empowering their clients through community integration and career guidance, as well as emotional support.

Where DSPs work depends on the client’s needs. A DSP might live with a client at their home or group home, work at a day habilitation center, or simply accompany their client out in public.

Examples of disabilities a DSP caregiver’s client might have include:

  • Down syndrome
  • Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Williams syndrome

Intellectual and developmental disabilities encompass a broad spectrum, so clients’ needs vary greatly. While one client’s needs might primarily involve mobility support and assistance with household tasks, another client might have a greater need for an emotional “support person” to lean on and facilitate inclusion. 

This is why it’s best for DSPs to have varied skills and experiences, as well as the ability to evaluate their client’s current situation and strategize ways to grant them independence and make their life easier.

What Does a DSP Caregiver Do?

The role of a DSP is unique to each situation, and the support services one DSP provides might make their job description look different than another’s. 

Most DSPs’ job duties include personal care and assistance with daily tasks. This might include administering medication, helping a client access food and/or cook, caring for wounds, first aid, toileting, or assistance with mobility.

Often, DSPs accompany clients at work. This might involve transportation to and from work as well as employment support, job coaching, and assistance in advocating for accessibility needs in the workplace (including working with the client’s boss on customizing the client’s job duties).

DSPs also focus on community integration. They act as “support people,” encouraging engagement in the community and brainstorming ways to help people with disabilities become more independent. They might also offer emotional support or help a client research and access existing resources and opportunities within the community.

How Long is DSP Training in NYC?

Most DSPs in New York City earn a DSP certificate through an accredited training program at a university. DSP certificate  programs typically provide about 100 hours of training over the course of a few weeks.Alternatively, a year of experience working or living with someone with a developmental or intellectual disability may suffice. 

Topics covered in a DSP certificate course might include: 

  • Habilitation (helping a disabled individual improve and maintain life skills and communication skills)
  • An overview of clients’ disabilities and vocabulary used in the field
  • Advocacy on behalf of clients, human rights
  • Abuse and neglect incident reporting
  • Community inclusion
  • Data collection
  • Emergency procedures
  • Surrogate decision-making
  • Mental Hygiene Legal Services (MHLS) (a New York State agency that advocates for people receiving services for a mental disability)
  • What to expect when employed (i.e. salary, benefits, operating an agency vehicle)

You can apply to programs at any accredited institution,  like SUNY or CUNY, online. Holistic training on everything from emergency procedures to advocacy help ensure that you’ll be able to take on fulfillment of your client’s needs, regardless of their category.

What Are the Requirements to Become a DSP Caregiver in NYC?

In addition to earning your certification through the program of your choice (one year of direct care experience with disabled individuals may suffice instead), there are a few other requirements to become a DSP in New York City. 

You’ll need a high school diploma or GED and a criminal background check, and tuberculosis testing is often required (since you’ll likely be working with immunocompromised individuals). 

A medical exam, psychological and drug screening, fingerprinting, and a physical/agility test (since you might need to perform physical tasks for your client or in order to aid with their mobility) will likely be in order.

You’ll need a valid driver’s license to operate a motor vehicle in New York State, as providing transportation will likely be part of your job.

Finally, you’ll need to be cleared through:

  • The New York State Child Abuse Registry
  • The Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs
  • The Medicaid Fraud Prevention and Detection database

Work or life experience with people with intellectual or developmental disabilities is a plus, but certainly not a requirement to become a DSP.

If you meet the requirements listed above, you are eligible to work as a DSP in the State of New York.

Written by
Updated on
Read time
5 min
Share with a friend

What Others Are Reading…

6Min. Read
In recent years, there has been a rise in the use of telehealth services. This is likely…
3Min. Read
Caregiving is a demanding job. Most caregivers spend an average of 20 hours per week providing care….
5Min. Read
Are you searching for exciting things to do with an elderly loved one in New York City?…
5Min. Read
While caregiving can be incredibly rewarding for the care recipient and caregiver alike, it can also come…
5Min. Read
Navigating the world of wheelchairs can be confusing, especially with so many options available. This guide will…
5Min. Read
In the bustling city of New York, finding the ideal long-term care option for yourself or a…
5Min. Read
Monitoring vital signs is a key aspect of elderly care. These indicators offer insights into an older…
5Min. Read
Whether you’re a caregiver, have a loved one with limited mobility, or are a care recipient, you…
5Min. Read
If you’ve come across terms such as “lay caregiver” or “informal caregiver” and wondered, “What does this…
5Min. Read
The term “senior citizen” can be daunting for older adults, and is defined differently by different people….