There are angels walking among us, and we may not even be aware of them. At Paladin, Inc., people known as Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) care for individuals who have developmental or physical disabilities every day, despite the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing shutdown.
“They’re little secret angels. They’re the ones who are doing the grocery shopping or taking clients to doctor appointments. They’ve dedicated their lives to making sure that a person is well-groomed, well-fed, clean, happy, and safe, and a lot of their work goes unnoticed,” said Kelsey Gant, Director of Residential Services at Paladin, Inc.
“I think that says a lot,” she added. “They’re not doing it for the recognition and whether or not they are appreciated, they’re just going about their work and caring for others.”
With three 24-hour group homes and many individuals living in their own residences throughout Lake, Porter, and La Porte counties, the work of the DSPs doesn’t just come to a stop. Many of the individuals have no one else in their life to help them with daily tasks such as cooking, cleaning, or caring for their personal hygiene.
“A lot of our individuals don’t have family close by that can stop by and drop off groceries or drive them to a doctor's appointment, and make sure they’re eating enough and taking their medications. They rely on our DSPs to maintain their quality of life,” Gant said.
For many residents, keeping a familiar routine and seeing a regular caretaker gives them peace during this difficult time.
“For our individuals, knowing that they are going to keep seeing a familiar face helps them get through,” said Jeff Rupe, Assistant Director of Residential Services at Paladin, Inc.
The DSPs and other Paladin, Inc., staff who have stepped up to the challenge are out on the front lines, looking out for the individuals for whom they’ve come to know and care.
“The DSPs are really holding down the fort. They’re making this all work,” Gant said. “They’ve been working with a lot of clients for several years and it wasn’t even a question in their mind, they were going to continue caring for them. I am blown away by the flexibility and the grace our DSPs have shown through this entire process.”
“They accepted the challenge and are going above and beyond. They’re even the ones who are coming up with solutions and volunteering to work longer hours. Everybody's working as a team to find new ways to keep everybody safe and cared for during this tough time,” Rupe said.
Paladin, Inc., is, of course, working hard to ensure that both residents and staff are protected and safe. From encouraging residents to stay in their homes, limiting visitors, providing staff with personal protective equipment, and monitoring temperatures and symptoms, to ensuring residents are fully stocked with food and cleaning products, they are doing all they can to keep everyone as healthy as possible.
“Our DSPs have been very diligent with letting us know if anybody has a fever or any underlying medical conditions that could put them at high risk. They’re being extra careful with making sure that they are safe,” Gant said.
Such dedication and work ethic are always appreciated, but now more than ever.
“It’s amazing to see their dedication. Every week we’re making it through and things are going really well. What they’re currently doing is more than what their role originally entails, and they are stepping up and it’s been a great team effort, doing what it takes to get the job done,” Rupe said. “Words can’t say enough. I want to say thank you for all that you do. I don’t know how Paladin could make it without you. Thank you for putting individuals and the agency first.”
“I have a new appreciation for our DSPs and the people who work at Paladin. Just seeing the way that everyone has come together has been really inspiring,” Gant said. “There isn’t a good way to tell them how much we appreciate them. I just thank them so much and I hope that they truly understand the impact that they’re having. They’re the ones responsible for keeping our residents safe and healthy.”
Residential Services at Paladin, Inc. could use donations of cleaning supplies. To find out more about how you can help, contact Paladin, Inc. at 219-874-4288 or visit their website at http://www.paladin.care/.