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What COVID-19 Means for DSPs

Throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) state of emergency, the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD) has released a variety of guidance to the field. Much of that guidance has a direct impact on how direct support professionals (DSPs) provide services to the people who they support. 

Guidance on How You Provide Supports

  • What LTSS Pre-Surge Planning Toolkit Means for DSPs
    • The Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD), working with the Department of Health, Department of Medicaid, and Department of Aging, created a plan for supporting people in long-term care facilities and homes who may have been exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19). Please do not use this document on its own. Its purpose is to help direct support professionals (DSPs) understand the Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Pre-Surge Planning Toolkit.

  • Behavioral Supports and Rights Restrictions
    • Many rights restrictions that are a result of the state of emergency should not be categorized as restrictive measures. This includes
      • limitation of visitors,
      • restricting large group activities,
      • not participating in community opportunities that are against the Ohio Department of Health's orders,
      • or using some of the resources below to help explain to the people you support in a manner that the person can understand.
    • During the state of emergency, a person may need to be quarantined or isolated if they are exposed to someone who tests positive for COVID-19 or if they are symptomatic of COVID-19.
  • Prevention for Waiver Providers of Multiple Residents in a Single Home
    • All DSPs entering a home should be screened, or screen themselves, for symptoms using the Entry Screening Process for Prevention of COVID-19 Transmission tool.
    • If someone you support is isolated or quarantined, you should maintain social distancing of at least 6 feet from the person, except for brief, necessary interactions.
      • DSPs supporting the person should wear gowns, gloves, eye protection, and face masks.
    • If there are confirmed cases of COVID-19:
      • Notify local department of health and county board of developmental disabilities.
      • Monitor all people once per shift.
      • If possible, people with COVID-19 should have their own bathroom.
      • Those who have been in contact of another person with COVID-19 should be tested if they develop fever or respiratory symptoms.
  • Temporary Changes to Adult Day Services
    • People can now provide adult day services in the home of the person,
    • on behalf of the person, such as
      • picking up groceries or medication,
      • or developing activity kits,
    • or electronically.
      • DSPs are now able to provide services without being in the same locations.
        • An option if the person needs the supports and would benefit from them.

Resources for Ways to Provide Supports

  • What COVID-19 Means for Families
    • If you’re supporting someone whose family wants COVID-19-related information, this resource can provide pertinent information for families.
  • Having a Meaningful Day
    • Despite Governor Mike DeWine’s Stay-at-Home Order, people with developmental disabilities can continue to have enjoyable and meaningful days.
    • This resource provides content areas people with disabilities can continue to engage in and suggests specific activities people can do, such as physical activities, arts, creativity, and virtual opportunities.
  • LifeCourse Tool for Social Distancing
    • Social distancing is new and difficult, but there are many resources and supports you may have available to you that have never been used before.
    • This tool helps you think about what supports you have to live a good life during this period of change.
  • Resilience Materials
    • Emotional resilience and well-being are critical in maintaining the health and safety of yourself and the people you support.
    • This tool provides you resources for self-care and ideas for the person you support to stay connected.

Communicating Changes to the People You Support

  • Plain Language: COVID-19 Information
    • This simple language resource, with pictures, explains what COVID-19 is, how it is spread, what happens if you have it, how to stay healthy, and what to do if some you live with or a direct support professional (DSP) gets sick.
  • Social Stories
    • Explaining to loved ones can be difficult during uncertainty and change.
    • Social stories are a way to help someone understand what is happening and how to regulate their thoughts and feelings, which can have a big impact on their response to change.
    • There are many free resources for learning about and using social stories.
  • Plain Language: Day Programs Closing
    • To prevent spread of COVID-19, new rules have been made to keep everyone healthy.
    • This simple language resource, with pictures, says why programs are closing.

DODD Information

DODD has also relaxed many of the requirements for the initial onboarding and training of DSPs to enable the disabilities services system to safely support everyone who needs services.

If you know of someone who is home from school or was laid off, suggest becoming a DSP. If your employer isn’t hiring, send them to ohiomeansjobs.com.

DODD has set up a dedicated web page for department communications and links to helpful resources that will advise people with disabilities, their families, service providers, direct support professionals, county boards of developmental disabilities, and the community at large.

For specific questions about COVID-19 and additional information and resources, DODD urges you to use the Ohio Department of Health’s call center. Call 1-833-4-ASK-ODH (1-833-427-5634), or visit coronavirus.ohio.gov