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Why is it so hard to hire and keep support professionals for the disabled?

Appealing for benefits is best done under the guidance of an experienced disability lawyer.

Why is there a shortage of direct support professionals?

Author: Attorney Lonnie Roach

  •   An increased demand for services.
  •   Fewer people moving into the Direct Support Professional workforce.
  •   Low wages.
  •   Job Stress.
  •   Insufficient training.
  •   Lack of professional recognition.


Every day the average person wakes up and breezes through a full day of ordinary tasks we take for granted – cooking, cleaning, taking a shower. For some disabled people, accomplishing these tasks – and many more – would not be possible without the assistance of a Direct Support Professional or “DSP”.

support people for the disabled

Support people are needed to allow the disabled to remain in their homes instead of living in an institution, but there is an increasing shortage of caregivers.

Direct Support Professionals care for people who need health care assistance at home, allowing disabled people to remain in their homes instead of living in an institution or private nursing facility.

Disabled people rely on DSPs for daily support in a variety of chores, and their families rely on the quality care DSPs give so they can go to work and have a respite from caregiving. Caring for a disabled person usually costs about half as much as residential care and the client can enjoy the comfort of their own home or a small facility.

A DSP can help with:

  •   Housework, cooking and cleaning
  •   Personal care
  •   Medications
  •   Driving to appointments and other activities
  •   Providing support at work, school and recreational activities

Companies and nonprofit agencies which provide home and community based services are struggling to attract new workers to the position and are being forced to terminate services and refuse new clients.

Demand for Direct Support Work in Texas exceeds supply and the gap is expected to grow; the typical worker tenure is only one year. Waiting lists are long, frustrating disabled people, and sometimes forcing them into expensive private facilities.

The President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities believes that the shortage of workers is due to a number of factors.

  •   An increased demand for services due to the growth of the aging population in the U.S. and increased survival rates.
  •   Fewer people moving into the Direct Support Professional workforce.
  •   Low wages, poor access to health insurance and lack of paid time off.
  •   Stress and demands of the job including 24-hr work days and 7-day work weeks.
  •   Insufficient training for the position.
  •   Lack of professional recognition and status for skilled DSPs.

Most DSPs love their job because of the connection it provides with their clients and the feeling of satisfaction they receive from helping another person, but the challenges of the job can be discouraging.

In Texas the average salary for a DSP is $10.14 per hour (8% below the national average). Most DSPs work six days per week and are forced to work two or even three jobs. Responsibilities, like helping a person take a shower, may feel awkward and a DSP may have to deal with aggressive behavior.

If you have been denied disability benefits don’t give up! Contact a Disability lawyer at 512-454-4000 for a free consultation and get the benefits you deserve.

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The shortage of workers places disabled people at risk of harm and burden the people who care for them.

Direct Support Professionals who work multiple jobs become fatigued and are more liable to make mistakes. Also, they may not be able to tolerate stressful situations as well. Because turnover is high, a new DSP may not be familiar enough with a client to recognize signs of illness. Clients may feel their only option is moving to an institutions or private facility and give up their independence.

The Texas Health and Human Services Department and private organizations have suggested a number of solutions to the problem which is costly to both the human services system and the U.S. Economy.

  •   Offer a living wage and benefits.
  •   Offer a 40-hour work week.
  •   Provide a realistic job preview and job training.
  •   Train businesses and organizations in recruitment and include DSPs in the development of Best Practices and recruitment.
  •   Offer DSPs a career ladder.
  •   Create networking and mentoring opportunities for DSPs.
  •   Improve the professional identity and recognition status of the DSP position.
  •   Improve oversight of the DSP.

Direct Support Workers provide invaluable assistance and companionship to the disabled people and families they serve.

The challenges they face cannot be ignored if we want disabled people to be able to live independently and well. Recruitment, wages and benefits, and job status must all be improved in order to retain well-qualified direct support professionals.

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Disability benefits are an important source of income for those who are unable to work. If you not able to work due to accident or illness, you may be eligible for Social Security Disability or Long Term Disability benefits. If you have applied for benefits and been denied, contact the attorneys at Bemis, Roach and Reed for a free consultation. Call 512-454-4000 and get help NOW.

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"Words can not truly express the gratitude that I feel toward Mr. Lonnie Roach and his professional team. I give them an A+++. Very compassionate and prompt. Their priorities are first and foremost helping you succeed at your case. When you feel helpless, feeling like someone is on your side can mean the world to you. Thank you for working for the people."
-Amy K.


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Attorney Lonnie RoachAuthor: Attorney Lonnie Roach has been practicing law for over 29 years. He is Superlawyers rated by Thomson Reuters and is Top AV Preeminent® and Client Champion rated by Martindale Hubbell. Through his extensive litigation Mr. Roach obtained board certifications from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Lonnie is admitted to practice in the United States District Court - all Texas Districts and the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit. Highly experienced in Long Term Disability denials and appeals governed by the “ERISA” Mr. Roach is a member of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, Austin Bar Association, and is a past the director of the Capital Area Trial Lawyers Association (Director 1999-2005) Mr. Roach and all the members of Bemis, Roach & Reed have been active participants in the Travis County Lawyer referral service.

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