Caring for the Disabled in the Pandemic and Beyond

Caring for the Disabled in the Pandemic and Beyond

By Gay Murry, Direct Support Professional (DSP), New Hope of Indiana

The pandemic did so much to shine a light on the tough jobs of frontline workers. Yes, my work caring for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in a New Hope of Indiana home was difficult. It was even scary at times. We had to mask up, social distance and take many other precautions. We couldn’t go on our usual outings with clients to help them feel part of the community and their social isolation was devastating to watch. But there were some amazing things, too. Life-changing things. I hope others around the state will learn from my story and consider joining me as a Direct Support Professional (DSP).

The pandemic definitely changed my life – in a wonderful manner. I found creative ways to build meaningful connections with my clients and learned to get even closer to my coworkers. Pulling together, working together, praying, being a mother and a friend brought us through – stronger than ever.

I’ve been at New Hope for more than eight years and I truly enjoy taking care of my clients – cooking breakfast, keeping them strong and healthy, helping them with everyday tasks. The best part is joking and watching my clients smile, nod or laugh. That kept me going through the months of isolation during the pandemic.

The past year has really strengthened my faith. I felt incredibly supported by my employer, New Hope of Indiana, and colleagues. New Hope is an awesome place to work and to make a career if you love taking care of people. If you’re compassionate and caring like me, well then you’ve come to the right place to work. From our CEO to our management team to our caregivers like me, our organization values inclusivity and service and it shows in all that we do. I’m especially proud to be part of #TeamNewHope this year because we received an IndyStar Top Workplaces Award for the third straight year and New Hope was even awarded special Top Workplaces Cultural Excellence Awards for Formal Training and Woman-Led Culture.

I’m glad the pandemic shined a light on the work we do and the need for more people to do it. I’m thankful the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation last session to increase the average wages of DSPs like me. I’m hoping that encourages others to choose this as a career and stay in the field. The vulnerable people we serve deserve it. Having this pay raise has changed my life for the better. I am truly grateful and thankful.

As in many other fields, New Hope and other disability services agencies are facing a significant staffing shortage, particularly for DSPs. I hope that Hoosiers looking for meaning and purpose in a career will consider serving others as a DSP. It is the hardest and most rewarding work I’ve ever done, and it means more to me than any other job. The individuals I serve bring me so much happiness and they teach me more than I could ever hope to teach them.

New Hope is implementing pay increases thanks to additional funding from the State and Federal governments, as well as providing numerous other benefits in hopes of hiring 50 new DSPs this year. While that is really great news, the best benefit of my job is getting to know our incredible clients and making a difference in their lives. There’s nothing else like it.

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