Developmental service workers (DSWs) are specially trained individuals who provide care and support to people with intellectual disabilities. They build connections between individuals, families and community, encourage skill development, advocate valued social roles for people with developmental disabilities, support them to achieve their personal goals, and encourage them to play a full and active role in the community.
Along with providing support and care to people with developmental disabilities, the DSWs may be expected to fill a variety of work roles such as, educational assistants, residential support workers, family supporters, integration facilitators, support workers and employment supporters. Their job also includes facilitating the development of everyday skills and helping individuals display competent and responsible behaviour through respectful and empowering approaches.
Career Advice for Aspiring Developmental Service Workers
The job of DSWs is extremely challenging as it includes working with people with difficult behaviours. Besides, there can be an excessive workload at times, extra responsibilities and odd shift hours. In order to perform the job, the professionals need to emotionally strong yet sensitive towards the sufferings, issues and special needs of individuals they are serving. Aspiring DSWs must weigh pros and cons of the job before setting their foot forward.
Although there is a huge demand for Developmental Service Workers Program (DSWs) in Canada but employers are keen on hiring individuals who have undergone formal education in developmental service work, possess hands-on experience, and emotional and physical competencies to perform the job well. Aspiring DSWs can begin with a post-secondary course in developmental service work. Many colleges in Canada offer such programs but Centennial College’s two-year program offers distinctive benefits to students.
The college provides students a number of field placements during the program duration. Not only this, they are guided by faculty with years of experience in the field. Students study pharmacology, health promotion and personal well-being, valued social roles, interpersonal skills, policy and social welfare system and social psychology.
The coursework also includes projects, seminars, internet searches, community observations, teamwork and electronic communications. To apply for college’s developmental service workers program, students will need to submit their secondary school diploma or equivalent and scores of English Grade 12 C or University.
Additional Skills and Competencies
Apart from formal education and training in developmental service work, prospective DSWs must have a thorough understanding of the nature of intellectual disabilities, personal support requirements and techniques. In addition, they should also possess excellent communication, critical and reflective thinking, team work and time management skills. A strong emphasis is laid on all these aspects during the program at Centennial College.
They need to build connections with their clients, regardless of their age and invest their time, skills, competencies and emotions in their well-being. They may also be expected to travel to their clients’ location if they employed as support workers, to provide them care and assistance. The industry field placements during the program help students understand how to operate in a real world setting and what they will be expected to do when they enter the field of work after course completion.
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