My name is Adam Cullen, and I am a direct support professional (DSP) working for Hammer Residences in Wayzata, Minnesota. My employment as a DSP is one of the most rewarding and challenging aspects of my life; I love the people I serve and the difference I make in their lives. However, the job comes with many challenges that have recently increased. In the state of Minnesota, DSP’s are not properly compensated for the work they do. Wages are low. It is routine for myself and my coworkers to work 50-55 hours or more of over time every week just to get by.
As we are all becoming aware, the state is seeing a staffing shortage in this field due in large part to the lack of a living wage. The shortages, on top of the new demands only further impedes the people we serve. There is a greater possibility that activities, outings, meals, showers and baths are delayed because staff are busy hunting and retrieving medicines. Parents are also wondering why things that were once high priorities and are no longer have become frustrated with employees.
The burden of staff shortages is falling on our most disadvantaged populations, and the people that work long hours to support them. Please support efforts to increase the wage rate for DSPs, and contact legislators to advocate for people with disabilities. Thank you.
For the legislators representing Hammer homes, please use the find your legislator button on Hammer.org’s advocacy page. If you need further assistance, or need templates, samples, suggestions or ideas, contact Mary Gaasch at MaryG@hammer.org.
Support for DSPs is vital for people with disabilities to be able to receive the necessary care and supervision that allows then to live as independently as possible and to provide them with safe, secure and productive living environments. Our son has been a Hammer resident for over 15 years and would not have been able to thrive anywhere nearly as well as he has without the support that the DSPs at Hammer provides him and his housemates with. DSPs are vital and we consider them to be the front line and essential workers who are truly vested in caring for and supporting the vulnerable adults that are under their care. With the current state of affairs and the inadequate salaries that they currently receive in proportion to the responsibilities that their work entails, there is a significant shortage of available DSPs causing major issues in the group homes and apartments that they are needed to staff. It is imperative that a truly living wage is paid to DSPs to help keep and increase the numbers of highly qualified and trained staff necessary to fill these positions.