Supporting DSPs during COVID-19

Providing Direct Support during the COVID-19 Pandemic Direct Support Professionals Survey
November 2020


This survey is being conducted by the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) in partnership with the Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota.  

We would like to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on direct support professionals. Your responses are anonymous. Your identity will not be recorded.

If you previously took this survey back in April or May 2020, we’d appreciate you completing it again. It will help us to see how these issues have changed over time.


Who should complete this survey?

A Direct Support Professional (DSP) or Frontline Supervisor (FLS) should complete this survey. 

Direct Support Professional (DSP): Employees whose primary responsibilities include providing support, training, supervision, and personal assistance to people with disabilities. They have titles such as direct care worker, house managers with primarily direct care duties, residential aide, job coach, home health aide, personal care assistant, certified nursing assistant, and many other titles. At least 50% of a DSP’s hours are spent in direct support tasks (e.g., personal care, home care, community integration). DSPs may perform some supervisory tasks, but the focus of their job is direct support work.

Frontline Supervisor (FLS): Employees whose primary responsibility (more than 50% of their role) is the supervision of DSPs as defined above. While these individuals may perform direct support tasks, their primary job duty is to supervise employees and manage programs. They are not viewed by the organization as DSPs and may include house managers if their duties are not primarily direct support. These individuals may or may not be in licensed or degreed positions (such as a nurse) but the organization views their role as guiding and directing the work of the direct support worker more than 50% of their time.


Who should not complete

this survey?

  • Nursing and other professional licensed staff (e.g., LPNs, RNs, physical therapy aides, certified occupational therapist assistants, speech therapists/pathologists, behavior analysts/clinicians, mental health professionals, licensed social workers, universal workers, and activities assistant) are NOT considered Direct Support Professionals.

  • Employees who have concrete tasks with little direct contact such as being a cook, janitor, or laundry worker are NOT included.

  • Employees who are CEOs, owners, or have administrative roles are NOT included.

  • On-call employees (those who do not have any regularly scheduled hours) are NOT included.

Please report the information for yourself. If a question is unclear, answer to the best of your knowledge.

Did you take the

Direct Support Workforce and COVID-19

National Survey?

The International Journal for Direct Support Professionals HELP during COVID-19: Thoughts about meeting the mental health needs of adults with developmental disabilities and those that support them

Regis is a John F. Kennedy Jr. Award for Direct Support Workforce Advocacy & Leadership Winner and National Historic Recognition Project 2000- 2020 Honoree. For more on Regis Obijiski’s contributions to the field, you can read about him in the in the National Historic Recognition Project 2000-2020 Booklet here. 

In the video, Regis shares the stories of two Direct Support Professionals. 

In the video, Peter Leidy, Quality Enhancement Specialist of CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership performs a song of appreciation for this essential workforce.

We are pleased to share another musical Words of Encouragement video. The song this week comes from Michael Steinbruck, MA. Michael is the Executive Director of The Learning Community for Person Centered Practices (TLCPCP). 

Imagine's David Pitonyak shares a message of well wishes for the Direct Support Professionals working during COVID-19 pandemic.

Words of Encouragement from Ramu Iyer

Words of Encouragement from Liz Weintraub

Words of Encouragement from John Dickerson

Looking for additional support during this time? Please note the resources below:

Self Care Resource Page for DSPs (webinars, handouts and additional resources:

On-Boarding New DSPs in A Crisis (Code of Ethics Webinar Series, Competency Webinar Series, additional resources):

Want to Share Your Story?

If you have additional resources to share, please connect with us at

NADSP recognizes the invaluable work that Direct Support Professionals all over the world are doing during this unprecedented time. We appreciate you. We hope you remain safe and well.


As you know, legislation continues to move through Congress to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is essential that this legislation includes provisions to support people with disabilities, family caregivers, and the direct support professional workforce.


We know people with disabilities will be disproportionally impacted, and we are worried we are being left out.

CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership

Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.

COVID-19 Resources


There are numerous ways that the human services field can access the latest and most relevant information about the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and specifically how to support people with disabilities during the crisis.

CQL has compiled a list of toolkits, resources, and information to provide some guidance on better understanding and being responsive to COVID-19. These will assist human service organizations and support staff during this ever-changing situation.


Tools for Recruiting DSPs

During the COVID-19 Pandemic



In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, disability service providers find the struggle to recruit and retain direct support professionals even more pronounced than usual. Meanwhile, workers from a range of industries — restaurants, hotels, travel and tourism, and more — are finding themselves laid off and without work.

Recognizing that now may be the perfect time for displaced workers to find their next passion in our profession, ANCOR has created a series of tools designed to help connect provider organizations with potential job seekers to create opportunity in the midst of crisis.

The Role of the DSP and the Coronavirus: Part One

The current worldwide news about the emergence of the Coronavirus is on everyone’s list of concerns, questions and insecurities. We created this webinar specifically for Direct Support Professionals to provide them with guidelines for understanding the virus, protecting the individuals they support in the community and offering reliable resources for ongoing news and practices.

The Role of the DSP and Coronavirus: Part Two

In this installment of the Role of the Direct Support Profession and the Coronavirus,  NADSP’s Medical Adviser provides a brief update on developments since the previous “Part One” webinar in supporting people with disabilities during this pandemic. Specific information dedicated to direct support professionals will be reviewed.

The Role of the DSP and Coronavirus: Part Three

In this live  installment of the Role of the Direct Support Profession and the Coronavirus,  NADSP’s Medical Adviser  along with NADSP Staff provide a live update on developments since the previous “Part Two” webinar in supporting people with disabilities during this pandemic. Specific information dedicated to direct support professionals will be reviewed.

Meditation for DSPs in Times in Stress

Meditation is a practice where an individual uses a technique – such as mindfulness, or focusing the mind on a particular object, thought, or activity – to train attention and awareness, and achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state. Director of Educational Services, John Raffaele has created a meditation for DSPs in times of stress. We are here for you during this very difficult time. If you want to connect with John, he can be reached at:

Contact Us

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Jackson, MS 39202

Phone: 601-355-0220

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@2020 by The Arc of Mississippi