Direct Care Professionals (DCP’s) are the foundation of any Supported Living agency. These agencies provide an umbrella of services to individuals with disabilities living in the community. As an agency Director, I interviewed hundreds of DCP’s and have developed five key pre-employment tips.
1) Know the Requirements
DCP’s assist in all aspects of an individuals daily life. Personal care, driving and lifting are essential tasks. Know what your role will be and speak up if you are uncomfortable or have conflicts, before being hired. O*Net Online http://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/39-9021.00 has an excellent job summary for anyone interested in providing in home care.
2) Flexibility is a Must
Some individuals with disabilities receive around the clock support to live independently. A DCP’s main responsibility is ensuring their health and safety at all times. Life does not end at 5PM. Many individuals have jobs in the community or attend day programs. DCP’s will work second or third shift, weekends, holidays and in inclement weather.
3) Pre-Employment Preparation
A current background check, CPR and First Aid are mandatory before employment. Ask the potential employer ahead of time, what certifications are essential. Precedence is often given to applicants that are “ready to go” that only require initial employer provided state regulated training. Prepare photo copies of your certifications, social security card, drivers license, auto insurance, background check, CPR and First Aid card. It will impress the interviewer and provide the guts of your personnel file.
4) Personal Experience Counts
Living with a special needs sister, provided the foundation of my professional career. On applications, always include your personal experience as a caregiver. This may include babysitting your niece that has autism or caring for your mother with Alzheimers. Include volunteer experience, such as coaching a special needs soccer team. Unpaid caregivers often possess basic DCP skills.
5) More Than a Paycheck
A DCP makes about $9.00 an hour. You will not get rich by becoming a DCP, you will be rewarded by knowing the positive changes you have made in an individuals life. DCP’s should be passionate about helping others. Employers want to hire more than just a warm body. You must enjoy interacting with people of all social, economic and diverse backgrounds. Watching someone attain their goal of independence and knowing you participated in that process, is priceless.