In our DSP highlight is Sheila Robinson. Sheila is one of our heroes without a cape. Before Covid19, Sheila worked as a Life Coach 5 (DSP) in our THRIVE day hab program, a Monday – Friday position.
Since the onset of Covid19 Sheila has been so flexible. She has been teaching one on one to people in their homes, working at one of our residential assisted apartment buildings in Sidney and that included weekends, taking on Zoom classes and most recently traveling to Andes to teach an individual in her home. She has done all of this with a great attitude and top-notch quality care. For anyone who knows Delaware County at all, you recognize that Sheila put in a lot of miles making sure people’s needs were met. While the world was sheltered in, essential workers like Sheila were making sure the needs of the IDD community were met. Where would we be without our heroes without capes? We asked Sheila to share her experience with us and to tell us what she was doing to stay safe and take good care of herself, as well as why her role as a DSP is essential. We hope you enjoy it as she shares a bit of her story.
We are proud to introduce you to Sheila Robinson…
“My work responsibilities have changed and evolved as the pandemic continues. I started out back in March working from one of our residences, then switched to in-home day hab services with 1 individual and working from home. That evolved into travel to in-home day hab services in the morning and zoom classes with other individuals in the afternoons from home. In June I was allowed back into the building to work. I stopped the in-home day hab services with the individual in the morning because that is what they choose. I increased the number of Zoom classes and focused on one on one zoom instruction working on personal goals with individuals. It means a lot to the individual to have this one on one time with a Life Coach. In mid-June, I started in-home day hab services with another individual in the afternoons so that I could continue the current Zoom classes I was hosting. I needed to adjust my work hours so that I could fit everything around the individual’s schedules. On August 17th, some of our individuals started coming back into the building to receive services. My role has changed once again. Now I do all the zoom classes for those who haven’t come back. It’s nice because I feel I am providing a needed service to them. I also get to see the individuals that came back to program during lunch supports.
I always wear a mask in the building, in stores, in homes-if I can’t social distance. Additional handwashing or sanitizing- being mindful of how my contacts could be harmed if I transmitted something to them or it was transferred to me.
This covid19 experience has been stressful! It was much more stressful when I had to work from home. Did the internet connection work all the time? NO! Did my kids walk through when I was hosting a class? YES. Did my husband think his work was more important than mine? Some days. All around it was just stressful. The worry about the future is stressful too.
I have tried to make healthy eating a priority. I stopped drinking caffeine in the morning and doing yoga at least 5 days a week. Helping family and friends where and when I can. Being available to talk to friends and family and sharing coping skills to navigate this new world.
A DSP is someone that individuals, in many situations, can rely on to be there for them. During the Covid-19 crisis, DSP’s were available through phone calls, in person, and on zoom to support individuals in their personal goals or just to help them understand what was happening in the world. DSP’s are a special breed of humans that for the most part put others ahead of themselves. They think about how ALL the changes in the world will affect the people they serve. I believe wholeheartedly that DSP’s were an essential component to the lives of the people receiving services in our country. There are folks that rely on all basic daily activities regardless of this crisis and DSP’s showed up to support them. Even though they were putting themselves and their families at risk. As a Delarc DSP, we are treated with gratitude and respect. It might be one of the lower-paying jobs but it is seen as one of the most essential and important jobs in the agency. The support that DSP’s are given is tremendous.
We are fortunate to have Sheila on the Delarc team supporting people to live their best lives! Thank you, Sheila, for all you do!! You are amazing! Truly a hero without a cape!
***** A special note from the heart.
We are very fortunate to be able to supply our essential team with proper PPE to keep them safe, but many agencies like ours struggled to get safety measures in place and PPE simply because Direct Support Professionals were “not on the list” of essential workers to get what little there was. We are working hard to change that. Your support means everything. Your advocacy means everything. Agencies much larger, located deep within the most highly affected areas of our state suffered great losses from covid19 deaths and illnesses. We mustn’t forget or trivialize the magnitude of this loss of family, loved ones, and dear friends who had productive and happy lives.
As we all figure out how to get through the next few years and the possibility of a second wave of covid19 infection and as we experience the impact of a once in a century situation, we hope you will stand by us in making ourselves visible. People with intellectual and developmental disabilities and those who support them to live lives of dignity and citizenship have been marginalized for too long. The greatest support you can lend to us is by embracing the people we support as your neighbors, your friends, your employees, and local entrepreneurs. Remember our mission and the mission of agencies like ours at the voting booth. Know your constituents and where they stand on supporting Direct Support Professionals as valuable, essential, workers who need to earn a fair wage to support their families at home while they come to work every day supporting your families. We have always needed you, our community. We have always been grassroots and while that seems forgotten at times, it is still true. We truly are stronger together!