Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Developmental services workers do some social good within their communities

For those interested in enhancing the lives of people in the community, consider building a career from your passion, interests, and community involvement. Social work in developmental services involves in assisting day-to-day living of clients with disabilities. Organizations accept job applicants with sufficient relevant volunteer work or first-hand experience in client settings, but a postsecondary education is generally the requirement. Peg Jenner, Developmental Services Worker Program Coordinator at Centennial College, describes the school’s program a great school-to-work transition: “(Students) learn about strategies to support people such as teaching strategies, personal support, resources in the community, and impacting the impressions and the attitudes of the public positively about people with intellectual disabilities.”

The top skills needed to be successful in the developmental services field are communication and interpersonal skills, as workers are expected to interact with clients and coworkers in much of their time. Patience, maturity, and sensitivity are good characteristics to develop as developmental services deals with social work and more specifically, with persons with disabilities. Many transferrable skills such as teamwork, problem solving, and leadership skills are important to this role, given their required anticipation of problems and delivery of solutions for each individual clients.

Centennial College created the two-year program under the School of Community and Health Studies belt to cultivate skilled developmental services workers, with the academic training and hands-on experience through field placements. This area is heavily involved in social service but it involves different job titles including Developmental Services Worker, Community Disability Services Worker, Community Support Worker, Community and Social Services Worker, Child and Youth Care Worker, Rehabilitation Care Worker, Supported Living Worker, and Client Care Worker. To be a successful candidate in this job area, students are trained and taught in various areas:

- Interacting, providing services, and supporting individuals with disabilities
- Personal care for skills in hygiene care, vital signs assessment, and controlling infectious diseases
- Social perceptions and interactions through the Social Psychology course
- Having the right values by learning the Social Role Valorization Theory
- Social issues such as abuse, discrimination, poverty, oppression, and social justice, specifically for people with disabilities

The Career Outlook for social workers, including developmental services workers looks optimistic:

- Employment in the community and social services field is good and leans towards college graduates in the labour pool to fill in entry-level positions.
- Unemployment rate in this field is low and the labour market is able to accommodate students who are transitioning into the labour market.
- Main employment will be in social services positions that could range from first-hand social worker to counseling to vocational trainers. According to Service Canada, almost two thirds of the workforce is located in the health care and social assistance sectors, while the rest work in public administration, social organizations, and educational services. Common workplace settings include patient care centres, residential care facilities, hospitals, and community services such as food and housing and emergency services.
- Most workers are employed full-time with flexible hours on weekends and night shifts. Those starting their career can gain valuable experience in temporary summer positions and part-time roles.

Developmental services workers (DSWs) provide personal care and support for people with disabilities in various community settings. Depending on the workplace, job responsibilities can include personal care including bathing, grooming, and eating, household management, planning and implementation of activities and programs, and assistance in emotional needs. DSWs engage with people with developmental disabilities, and challenging behaviours. Centennial graduates are trained to recognize one’s own stress, fatigue, and illness, so they can receive proper assistance themselves and avoid some burdens that come with the nature of the job settings.

Opportunities for advancement in this field and expanding job options can include further credentials related to this field. Some work settings involves visitation of clients in their homes so a driver’s license. Centennial College partnered with selected universities, institutes and professional associations for continuous learning for its graduates.

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