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Direct Support Professional

Competency-Based Apprenticeship
Sponsoring Company:
National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR)
O*Net Code
Rapids Code
Req. Hours
Jul 16, 2021
Jul 16, 2021

Competency-Based Skills

15 skill sets | 64 total skills
Community Living Skills and Supports
The competent DSP assists the participant to meet his/her physical (e.g., health, grooming, toileting, eating) and personal management needs (e.g., human development, human sexuality), by teaching skills, providing supports, and building on individual strengths and capabilities.
The competent DSP assists the participant with household management (e.g., meal prep, laundry, cleaning, decorating) and with transportation needs to maximize his/her skills, abilities and independence.
The competent DSP assists with identifying, securing and using needed equipment (e.g., adaptive equipment) and therapies (e.g., physical, occupational and communication).
The competent DSP supports the participant in the development of friendships and other relationships.
The competent community-based support worker assists the participant to recruit and train service providers as needed.
The competent DSP uses effective, sensitive communication skills to build rapport and channels of communication by recognizing and adapting to the range of participant communication styles.
The competent DSP has knowledge of and uses modes of communication that are appropriate to the communication needs of participants.
The competent DSP learns and uses terminology appropriately, explaining as necessary to ensure participant understanding.
The competent DSP maintains accurate records, collecting, compiling and evaluating data, and submitting records to appropriate sources in a timely fashion.
The competent DSP maintains standards of confidentiality and ethical practice.
The competent DSP learns and remains current with appropriate documentation systems, setting priorities and developing a system to manage documentation.
Participant Empowerment
The competent DSP assists and supports the participant to develop strategies, make informed choices, follow through on responsibilities, and take risks.
The competent DSP promotes participant partnership in the design of support services, consulting the person and involving him/her in the support process.
The competent DSP provides opportunities for the participant to be a self-advocate by increasing awareness of self-advocacy methods and techniques, encouraging and assisting the participant to speak on his/her own behalf, and providing information on peer support and self-advocacy groups.
The competent DSP provides information about human, legal, civil rights and other resources, facilitates access to such information and assists the participant to use information for self-advocacy and decision making about living, work, and social relationships.
The competent DSP initiates or assists in the initiation of an assessment process by gathering information (e.g., participant's self-assessment and history, prior records, test results, additional evaluation) and informing the participant about what to expect throughout the assessment process.
The competent DSP conducts or arranges for assessments to determine the needs, preferences, and capabilities of the participants using appropriate assessment tools and strategies, reviewing the process for inconsistencies, and making corrections as necessary.
The competent DSP discusses findings and recommendations with the participant in a clear and understandable manner, following up on results and reevaluating the findings as necessary.
Community and Service Networking
The competent DSP helps to identify the needs of the participant for community supports, working with the participant's informal support system, and assisting with, or initiating identified community connections.
The competent DSP researches, develops, and maintains information on community and other resources relevant to the needs of participants.
The competent DSP ensures participant access to needed and available community resources coordinating supports across agencies.
The competent DSP participates in outreach to potential participants.
Facilitation of Services
The competent DSP maintains collaborative professional relationships with the participant and all support team members (including family/friends), follows ethical standards of practice (e.g., confidentiality, informed consent, etc.), and recognizes his/her own personal limitations.
The competent DSP assists and/or facilitates the development of an individualized plan based on participant preferences, needs, and interests.
The competent DSP assists and/or facilitates the implementation of an individualized plan to achieve specific outcomes derived from participants' preferences, needs and interests.
The competent DSP assists and/or facilitates the review of the achievement of individual participant outcomes.
Education, Training & Self-Development
The competent DSP completes required training education/certification, continues professional development, and keeps abreast of relevant resources and information.
The competent DSP educates participants, co-workers and community members about issues by providing information and support and facilitating training.
The competent DSP and the participant identify advocacy issues by gathering information, reviewing and analyzing all aspects of the issue.
The competent DSP has current knowledge of laws, services, and community resources to assist and educate participants to secure needed supports.
The competent DSP facilitates, assists, and/or represents the participant when there are barriers to his/her service needs and lobbies decision-makers when appropriate to overcome barriers to services.
The competent DSP interacts with and educates community members and organizations (e.g., employer, landlord, civic organization) when relevant to participant's needs or services.
Vocational, Educational & Career Support
The competent DSP explores with the participant his/her vocational interests and aptitudes, assists in preparing for job or school entry, and reviews opportunities for continued career growth.
The competent DSP assists the participant in identifying job/training opportunities and marketing his/her capabilities and services.
The competent DSP collaborates with employers and school personnel to support the participant, adapting the environment, and providing job retention supports.
Crisis Prevention and Intervention
The competent DSP identifies the crisis, defuses the situation, evaluates and determines an intervention strategy and contacts necessary supports.
The competent DSP continues to monitor crisis situations, discussing the incident with authorized staff and participant(s), adjusting supports and the environment, and complying with regulations for reporting.
Organizational Participation
The competent DSP contributes to program evaluations, and helps to set organizational priorities to ensure quality.
The competent DSP incorporates sensitivity to cultural, religious, racial, disability, and gender issues into daily practices and interactions.
The competent DSP provides and accepts co-worker support, participating in supportive supervision, performance evaluation, and contributing to the screening of potential employees.
The competent DSP provides input into budget priorities, identifying ways to provide services in a more cost-effective manner.
Building and Maintaining Friendships and Relationships
The competent DSP assists the individual as needed in planning for community activities and events (e.g., making reservation, staff needs, money, materials, accessibility).
The competent DSP assists the individual as needed in arranging transportation for community events.
The competent DSP documents community activities and events.
The competent DSP encourages and assists the individual as needed in facilitating friendships and peer interactions.
The competent DSP encourages and assists the individual as needed in communication with parents/family (e.g., phone calls, visits, letters).
The competent DSP implements individual supports regarding community activities.
The competent DSP provides incentive or motivation for consumer involvement in community outings.
The competent DSP assists the individual as needed in getting to know and interacting with his/her neighbors.
The competent DSP encourages and assists the individual as needed in dating.
The competent DSP encourages and assists the individual as needed in communicating with social workers and financial workers.
Provide Person Centered Supports
The competent DSP provides support to people using a person centered approach.
The competent DSP modifies support programs and interventions to ensure they are person centered.
The competent DSP challenges co-workers and supervisors to use person centered practices.
The competent DSP is knowledgeable about person centered planning techniques.
The competent DSP assists individuals in developing PCPs..
Supporting Health and Wellness
The competent DSP administers medications accurately and in accordance with agency policy and procedures.
The competent DSP observes and implements appropriate actions to promote healthy living and to prevent illness and accidents.
The competent DSP uses appropriate first aid/safety procedures when responding to emergencies.
The competent DSP assists individuals in scheduling, keeping, and following through on all health appointments.
The competent DSP assists individuals in completing personal care (e.g., hygiene and grooming) activities.
The competent DSP assists with identifying, securing and using needed adaptive equipment (i.e. adaptive equipment) and therapies (e.g., physical, occupational, speech, respiratory, psychological).
The competent DSP assists individuals in implementing health and medical treatments.
The competent DSP assists individuals to take active role in their health care decisions.

Technical Instruction

Core work skills in physical and personal management, and teaching daily living skills - 3 req. hrs
Health of participants
Grooming of participants
Toileting and basic hygiene needs of participants
Human development needs of participants
Human sexuality needs of participants
Core work skills in household management and transportation, and teaching these skills to participants - 3 req. hrs
Cleaning of household
Ownership and responsibility of household
Ability to be as self-sufficient as possible
Knowledge of ranges of community transportation
Appropriate menu planning for a healthy lifestyle
Adaptive equipment - 2 req. hrs
Assisting participants to use adaptive equipment
Teaching participant how to properly use adaptive equipment
Securing needed equipment
Therapeutic equipment, physical and occupational therapy equipment 
Assisting to repair or replace equipment
Supporting the participants in developing friendships and relationships - 2 req. hrs
Supporting connections to friends and advocates
Opportunities to develop friendships and relationships
Normal patterns of friendships and relationships
Awareness of exploitation and abuse
Rights and Responsibilities - 2 req. hrs
Awareness of human and civil rights of participants
Barriers that participants face including exclusion, segregation, oppression
Methods of full inclusion
Quality of life for participants
Learning preferences and choices
Teaching strategies and principles of reinforcement
Customized skills training for participants and recognition of unique learning styles
Recognition of the unacceptability of punishment as teaching strategy
Teaching that leads to support of personal choice and a self determined lifestyle 
Recognition of barriers for participants to normal lifestyles
Definitions of communication, language and speech - 4 req. hrs
Receptive language: Expressive language / Comprehension / Barriers to and facilitation of communication
Forms of communication - 4 req. hrs
Verbal, non-verbal
Writing, gestures, sign
High tech: electronic
Low tech: pen and paper
Behavioral: full spectrum
DSP as communication facilitator and partner - 4 req. hrs
Listening, responding, building rapport
Recognition and interpretation of non-verbal communication
Promoting and improving communication: With service participant | Within cultural context | Among other professionals | Facility with repair of communication breakdown | Strategies: Modeling / Contextual and cultural responding / Augmentative and alternative communication / Assistive technology / Environmental structuring / Etiquette and respect
Purpose of documentation - 3 req. hrs
Communication of pertinent information: Areas: services and supports, team, organization, regulation entities | Record of continuity and change
Communication of pertinent information: Areas: services and supports, team, organization, regulation entities | Record of continuity and change
Types of documentation - 3 req. hrs
Medical and physical/mental health
Medication administration
Behavioral support plans
Personal goals and record of progress
Incident and accident reports
Team and organizational communications: logs, forms
Data collection: Electronic: applicable hardware, software | Paper: forms, filings | Video and voice
Effective documentation - 3 req. hrs
Timeliness and accuracy
Fundamentals of report writing
Fundamentals of verbal reporting
Objective reporting
Subjective, interpretative reporting
Confidentiality - 3 req. hrs
Protection of integrity, privacy, and human rights
Security of information: electronic, paper, verbal
Releasing of information: Consent, authorization | Need-to-know basis: legal, regulatory, policy protections and exigencies
Supporting informed choice - 3 req. hrs
Role of DSP
Strengths-based approach
Participant rights
Assistance in designing support services - 3 req. hrs
Role of DSP in helping participants design supports
Choices in support services for participants
Communication with participants about level of supports
Recognition of person-centered supports and changing level of services if needed
Assistance with self-advocacy services - 3 req. hrs
Access to self-advocacy services
Knowledge of the self-advocacy movement
Needs of participants in understanding self-advocacy services
Role of DSP in helping participants to access self-advocacy services
Human, legal and civil rights - 3 req. hrs
Balancing rights and risk of self-advocacy involvement and independent decision making
Identification of various rights for participants
Legislation that guides self-advocacy and participant empowerment
Guardianship role in participants’ lives
Legislative and programmatic protections for participants (human rights committees)
Definition and purpose of assessment - 4 req. hrs
Assessment process: Collection of data | Structured observation, documentation, communication | Record reviews | Interviews | Ethical considerations: Accuracy and completeness / Respect, privacy, confidentiality
Formal assessments - 4 req. hrs
Comprehensive assessments: Spectrum of person’s past, present, future | Purpose: Funding and systems benefits / Personal support | Safety and risk management: Physical, medical, sensory / Cognitive, behavioral / Cultural, recreational
Functional behavioral assessment: Challenging behavior: ID, plan, outcomes | Social history | Medical, mental, physical issues | Ethical boundaries
Identification and use of assessment: Presenting strengths and barriers | Objectivity and descriptiveness | Cultural and personal context | Changing manifestations and needs | Recommendations, advocacy and referrals within role of DSP | Confidentiality
Informal assessments - 4 req. hrs
Informal support and support networks - 6 req. hrs
Nature and characteristics of beneficial types of formal and informal supports
Value of informal supports: Roles family, friends, roommates, volunteers, neighbors, and co-workers can play | How informal supports can create a practical network of support for the focus person
Finding, linking, and coordinating formal and informal supports to improve quality of life and assure well-being
Engaging and supporting others in finding creative, rewarding and practical ways of supporting participant-defined life outcomes and forming a circle of support
Community Supports and Resources - 6 req. hrs
Identifying the strengths, interests, and participant desire for community involvement: Providing multiple different opportunities for participant to explore community interests | Identifying community resources that are a good match for individuals | Discriminating between activities and events that are likely to lead to inclusion and those that are not
Facilitating participation in community activities and events
Supporting and communicating with other staff to promote ongoing involvement in community activities desired by participant
Purposes and goals of Planning - 3 req. hrs
Organizing and coordinating activities that support: Growth | Development | Inclusion | Valued roles | Achievement of desired outcomes
Assuring communication and understanding of all involved: 1.) DSPs | Participant | Family/guardian | Others in the formal and informal support network
Monitoring well-being and progress
Assuring high quality support
Characteristics and features of person-centered plans (PCPs) - 3 req. hrs
Identifying features common to most types of person-centered, strength-based plans
Valued roles and contributing roles
Differentiating PCPs from traditional, deficit-based, service-focused, or medical model service plans
Characteristics and examples of short term and long term person-centered outcomes
Key differences between person-centered outcomes and service-centered outcomes and goals
Roles that participants, family, friends, advocates, guardians and DSPs or other professionals fulfill in PCP
Legal and ethical considerations in PCP
Developing person-centered/ strengths-based plans - 3 req. hrs
Identifying activities to effectively prepare and help others prepare for planning sessions
Methods of learning about individual preferences, goals and interests
Assuring participant preferences, goals and interests are central to the plan
Welcoming and supporting others in the planning circle of support
Promoting and supporting the involvement of the focus person in the planning process
Participatory planning techniques
Identification of barriers to achieving planned outcomes such as - 3 req. hrs
Availability of resources
Intensity of support
Preferences and motivation of the focus person
Appropriateness of goals
Skills of supporters
Availability of informal support
DSP Education and training - 12 req. hrs
Current, advanced, and next practices
Non-mandated, competency-based trainings and education
Nationally certified DSP credential
Neglect, Abuse, and Exploitation - 3 req. hrs
Knowledge of helping participants protect themselves from harm or abuse
Identify common forms of abuse, neglect, and exploitation
Abuse prevention strategies
Recognizing signs of abuse, neglect, and exploitation
State and employer requirements and protocols regarding mandated or other reporting of abuse, neglect, and exploitation
Advocating for Community Inclusion and Appropriate Supports - 3 req. hrs
Identify common barriers for participants to needed community resources
Educates community when relevant to promoting the participant's inclusion in the community
Knowledgeable about the range of support services available to participants
Researches, initiates, and facilitates application for additional services as appropriate
Promote full array of services needed to meet individual outcomes
Promoting Self-Advocacy - 3 req. hrs
Educate service participants regarding abuse, neglect, and exploitation and strategies for prevention
Promote the empowerment and self-confidence of service participants to speak out for themselves and others.
Recognition and appropriate use of power and control DSP has in helping relationships;
Assist the participant to make informed choices and make decisions
Engage the participant in developing connections to advocacy groups
Support participant involvement in self-advocacy.
Civil Rights and Confidentiality - 3 req. hrs
Promote full array of services needed to meet individual outcomes
Identify common challenges and barriers to human, civil and legal rights for this (special population)
Knowledge of human, legal and civil rights and their protections
Protect the privacy and confidentiality of all participants
Vocational/Educational Supports - 6 req. hrs
Assists participant in career exploration
Continues to review opportunities and preferences made by participant reflecting the individual choice
Knowledge about educational and vocational support options for participants
Legal and civil rights for employment practices for participants in the program
Job retention services for participants who work in the community
Structured types of work settings for participants and how those settings support consumers
Coordination/Collaboration - 6 req. hrs
Working with community partners in support of the participants to develop job or vocational skills, including transition services
Observing participant and recognizing unmet needs for service
Serving as a team member supporting participant in community employment
Advocating for the participant to their employer when changes are needed
Knowledge of transportation needs of the participant to access community employment
Assessing Risk - 3 req. hrs
Environmental and individual characteristics that may affect risk and safety of participants
Assessing reasonable and necessary risk for participant growth or unnecessary and unreasonable risk
Preventing Crisis and High-Risk Situations - 3 req. hrs
Required certifications in crisis prevention and management (e.g., Fire Safety, First-Aid, Violence Prevention such as Mandated Reporter Training or CPI training.)
Basic principles and techniques of conflict resolution
Interventions to safeguard specific conditions of risk or predictable crises
Recognizing patterns of incidents, conditions, behaviors, or activities that result in dangerous situations and require prevention plans
Methods of arranging environmental, organizational, personal, and other conditions to prevent known risks and predictable crises
Implementing risk management or PCPs
Agency procedures, emergency egress, evacuation plans etc., that can mediate crises
Ethical and procedural responsibilities when unsafe procedures or conditions are identified
Crisis Intervention - 3 req. hrs
Implementing individualized safety plans, obtaining emergency assistance
DSP self-management practices necessary in emergency or crises
Communication with parties involved; documentation in accordance with standard operating procedures
Review and refinement of prevention procedures and risk management plan as necessary
Knowledge of appropriate limited use of aversive management practices including physical restraints and time out, and when such practices are not appropriate
Positive Behavioral Support (PBS) - 3 req. hrs
Definition, principles, application of PBS
Recognizing behavior as communication
Methods of functional assessment of behavior
Comparison of positive practices with punitive and aversive practices
Shifting methods of practices
Role of DSP
Preventing and managing challenging behavior
Individual DSP development - 2 req. hrs
Competency-based training
Voluntary credentialing
Professional development plan, career goals
Self-reflection, performance appraisals, and use of supervision in professional development
Alignment with vision, mission, values of the organization
Understanding the elements and process of change - 2 req. hrs
Personal and professional
Understanding effective teams - 2 req. hrs
Role of teamwork in the human service environment
Types of teams: work, project, inter-disciplinary, self-directed
Building organizational alignment
Roles and responsibilities
Mentoring and peer support - 3 req. hrs
Peer mentoring strategies
Performance evaluation and reporting
Positive working relationships
Role of skill mentor in U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Program
Employee participation in the broader organization - 3 req. hrs
Understanding participatory decision-making
Volunteering for committees, workgroups, planning sessions
Membership in civic associations and community groups
Membership in professional associations (e.g., NADSP Chapter)
Self-advocacy participation
Self-advocacy facilitation
Educating legislators and policymakers as a citizen and DSP: meetings, letters, calls
Recognition strategies with others
Friendships and Relationships - 4 req. hrs
Defining natural social connections
Importance of natural social connections in quality of life
Exploring social roles desired by service participant
Strategies to assist in relationship-building
Strategies to assist participant in maintaining friendships and other natural social connections.
Barriers to building and maintaining relationships
DSP boundaries in supporting relationships
Normal patterns of friendships and relationships
Potential for exploitation and abuse in relationships
Community Inclusion - 4 req. hrs
Benefits and challenges of social networks and community inclusion
Strategies that DSPs can use to work in partnership with families
Roles of a DSP in supporting community inclusion
Natural Supports - 4 req. hrs
Benefits and challenges of natural/informal supports
Strategies to develop natural supports
Coordination of informal and formal supports
Person-Centered Planning and Support Models - 6 req. hrs
Differentiate PCPs from traditional, deficit-based, service-focused, or medical model service plans
Characteristics and examples of short term and long-term person-centered outcomes
Identify key differences between person-centered outcomes and service-centered outcomes and goals
Explore roles that participants, family, friends, advocates, guardians, and DSPs or other professionals fulfill in PCP
Legal and ethical considerations in PCP
Implementation of PCPs - 6 req. hrs
Integrates person-centered supports into daily activities
Implements methods for ensuring that goals of person-centered plans are likely to be achieved and maintained over time
Uses effective strategies to stay focused on person-centered approaches
Looks for opportunities to help the person make choices, learn, get to know people, contribute and take on valued social roles
Assists people being supported and teams in finding resources
Examines why and how to support cultural differences in the person-centered process
Discovers person-centered methods for assisting people to identify opportunities for participating in the culture and lifestyle of their families and communities
Distinguishes between formal and informal supports; and realizes the benefits of integrating these
Understands the importance of eliciting, respecting and actively supporting participant choices and preferences
Explains how person-centered approaches and methods can be used to overcome barriers and challenges to relationships
Preventive Health Supports and Strategies - 2 req. hrs
Role of lifestyle choices in the promotion of health and wellness
Educating participants about healthy lifestyles and fostering healthy lifestyle choices
Knowledge of the annual routine medical and dental examinations, screenings, immunizations and procedures necessary to maintain good health.
Engaging participant in choices and activities that contribute to good health
Assisting individuals to take daily medications, therapies and specialized treatment in a timely and accurate way
Maintaining updated training certificates in First-Aid, CPR, and Universal Precautions and models these skills for others
Regulatory and organizational requirements for monitoring and documenting health/well being of participants
Recognizing barriers people with disabilities face in obtaining high quality, coordinated health care support
Assisting the participant to keep the people in his/her support team informed of health status
Individualized and Specialized Health Care Supports - 3 req. hrs
Methods of assisting the participant to understand health problems that arise and how to manage them
Unique health care conditions of people he/she supports
Procedures and interventions to follow in health care emergencies likely to occur with specific individuals, and conditions including use of risk assessment plans
Communicate participant well-being to team members
Medications, Self-Administration, and Side Effects - 3 req. hrs
Knowledge of legal and organizational procedures regarding medication administration for people he/she supports
Assisting people he/she supports in becoming self-directed in taking medications to the extent possible
Defining psychotropic medications and the side effects that can occur
Monitoring side effects using appropriate assessment, and tracking of data
Administering psychotropic medication according to protocol and following medication administration error requirements
Side effects associated with the specific medicines taken by people he/she supports and methods of monitoring for negative side effects
Importance of heightened monitoring when individuals begin new medication protocols
Providing Safe Environments and specialized health care support - 2 req. hrs
Identifying the physical and environmental conditions necessary for health and wellness and methods of maintaining these conditions
General health and safety procedures of the work environment and how to apply these at work
Health and safety conditions unique to each person he/she supports and applying these in the work setting including

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