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Proactive, Preemptive Person-centered Training Puts Hamaspik on Progressive Track

Agency Brings in Pros to Train Head Staff on New Direct?care Ethics and Standards

May 4, '15

By Mendy Hecht, Hamaspik Gazette

The ballroom was packed.  The crowd was rapt.  The presenters were engaging.

The event?  A Hamaspik agency-wide training on new universal ethical standards for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), industry lingo for employees who work directly with individuals with special needs.

It was April 23, and Hamaspik administrative staff from its Kings, Orange and Rockland divisions was on hand for a full-day training with Joseph M. Macbeth, Executive Director of the National Association of Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) and John Raffaele, a skilled NADSP staff educator and licensed New York social worker.

In yet another one of its positive seismic shifts of recent times, the New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) is now working with the two industry authorities to develop another first: ethical care standards for individuals with special needs that emphasize the contemporary value of person-centered care.

In plain English, that means letting the individual make as many personal decisions as possible, instead of deciding what they should do (or not do) for them.

Messrs. Macbeth and Raffaele have not only been making the rounds of the special-needs care industry, both statewide and nationwide, in recent months, but Mr. Macbeth is actually the industry expert who drafted the OPWDD’s set of ethical guidelines for the direct care of people with special needs.

But instead of waiting for the NADSP, or the OPWDD, to approach Hamaspik, Hamaspik approached the NADSP.

With the critical assistance and input of Mrs. Chumie Twerski, a veteran industry non-profit administrator who also works for NADSP, a custom presentation was developed for the Orthodox Jewish individuals with special needs who make up a large part of Hamaspik’s beneficiary body.

When the training duo put on their half-day seminar, then, the real-life situation examples they used consisted of scenarios remarkably reflective of grassroots sensitivity.  For example, in conveying how to lead an individual to not make a bad decision instead of simply controlling him, Mr. Raffaele invoked a name well known in the Orthodox community, then walking the crowd through a hypothetical in which a person wanted to make an impulsive decision just to get that public figure’s attention.

The training, which ran from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., left the trainers “very impressed” at how well Hamaspik staff conjured up realistic scenarios when engaging in role-playing with them—especially since it was all spontaneous without any rehearsals.

The crowd of Hamaspik department supervisors, nurses, psychologists, and executive directors departed fully equipped to personally provide person-centered care to individuals with special needs—and, most critically of all, now authoritatively equipped to train all their subordinates in the new OPWDD ethical standards of person-centered planning and care.

In the near future, every DSP (and every agency employee) interacting with individuals who live with various disabilities will have to adhere to the new code.  A compliance evaluation form will be filled out for each Hamaspik (and other) agency DSP each year and stored on file; that file will eventually be reviewed by auditors during at future DSP performance evaluations.

If the current OPWDD schedule unfolds as planned, that ethics compliance evaluation form will be mandatory as of January 2017.