National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals Code of Ethics
PreambleDirect Support Professionals (DSPs) who support people in their communities are called upon to make independent judgments on a daily basis that involve both practical and ethical reasoning. The people who assume the support role must examine and call upon values and beliefs, as well as creative vision, to assist them in the complex work they perform.
A primary purpose of the DSP is to assist people who need support to lead self-directed lives and to participate fully in our communities and nation. This emphasis on empowerment and participation is critical because the prejudices of society form powerful barriers that prevent many people with mental or physical disabilities from enjoying a high quality of life. And, too often, the very social policies and service systems designed to help can create other barriers.
Therefore, it must be the mission of the DSP to follow the individual path suggested by the unique gifts, preferences, and needs of each person they support, and to walk in partnership with the person, and those who love him or her, toward a life of opportunity, well-being, freedom, and contribution. Unfortunately, there have been no set criteria to guide these journeys as there are for other professional groups (such as doctors, nurses, service coordinators, and social workers) who have intimate knowledge of and responsibility for another personÍs emotional, financial, or physical being. There is no other position today in which ethical practice and standards are more important than direct support. DSPs are often asked to serve as gatekeepers between people needing support and almost every aspect of their lives, including access to community, personal finances, physical well-being, relationships, employment, and everyday choices. The whole landscape of a person's life can change with the coming and going of these critical support people.
As a result of these work duties, DSPs face ethical decisions on a daily basis and consistently feel the tension between the ideals of the profession and its practice. There are numerous pressures coming from organizations, government, social policy, and societal prejudice that can shift focus and allegiance away from those supported. In order to maintain the promise of partnership and respect that must exist in a helping relationship, a strong ethical foundation is critical to help DSPs navigate through the maze of influences that bombard them.
This issue has lead to the efforts on the part of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) to identify the kinds of ethical situations that DSPs face and to develop a set of ethical guidelines. The NADSP convened a national panel of DSPs, advocates, families, professionals, and researchers who constructed this code of ethics. Focus groups and surveys regarding the draft language were conducted throughout the country and were integrated to create the final code. This Code of Ethics is intended to serve as a straightforward and relevant ethical guide, shedding some light on the shared path to a self-directed life. It is intended to guide DSPs in resolving ethical dilemmas they face every day and to encourage DSPs to achieve the highest ideals of the profession.
The skills and knowledge of community support practice must be joined with the ethical principles to create the environment needed to fully support people. To do so effectively, we must all work toward recognizing DSPs as professionals who have skills, knowledge, and values that constitute a unique and important profession. There must be a commitment to hiring, developing, and supporting DSPs who have a healthy sense of their own worth and potential, and the worth and potential of the people they support, and who can infuse these beliefs into practice. DSPs themselves must know that it is part of their role to foster a spirit of cooperation and mutual responsibility with other DSPs regarding ethical practice.
Direct Support Professionals, agency leaders, policymakers, and people receiving services are urged to read the Code and to consider ways that these ethical statements can be incorporated into daily practice. The beliefs and attitudes that are associated with being an effective human service professional are the cornerstones of this code. This code is not the handbook of the profession, but rather a roadmap to assist us in staying the course of securing freedom, justice, and equality for all.
1. Person-Centered Supports
As a DSP, my first allegiance is to the person I support; all other activities and functions I perform flow from this allegiance.
As a DSP, I will -2. Promoting Physical and Emotional Well-Being
As a DSP, I am responsible for supporting the emotional, physical, and personal well-being of the individuals receiving support. I will encourage growth and recognize the autonomy of the individuals receiving support while being attentive and energetic in reducing their risk of harm.
As a DSP, I will -3. Integrity and Responsibility
As a DSP, I will support the mission and vitality of my profession to assist people in leading self-directed lives and to foster a spirit of partnership with the people I support, other professionals, and the community.
As a DSP, I will -4. Confidentiality
As a DSP, I will safeguard and respect the confiden-tiality and privacy of the people I support.
As a DSP, I will -5. Justice, Fairness and Equity
As a DSP, I will promote and practice justice, fairness, and equity for the people I support and the community as a whole. I will affirm the human rights, civil rights and responsibilities of the people I support.
As a DSP, I will -6. Respect
As a DSP, I will respect the human dignity and uniqueness of the people I support. I will recognize each person I support as valuable and help others understand their value.
As a DSP, I will -7. Relationships
As a DSP, I will assist the people I support to develop and maintain relationships.
As a DSP, I will -8. Self-Determination
As a DSP, I will assist the people I support to direct
the course of their own lives.
As a DSP, I will -9. Advocacy
As a DSP, I will advocate with the people I support for justice, inclusion, and full community participation.
As a DSP, I will -