Up Close with EIHAB’s Direct Support Professionals
Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) are some of the hardest working staff you will meet at any human services agency. The exceptional care that EIHAB’s DSPs provide to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities is truly life changing, helping to enhance the independence of hundreds of individuals who call EIHAB home.
We are proud to launch our new blog that highlights the outstanding work that takes place at EIHAB every day, shining the spotlight on several DSPs who are committed to making a difference and helping our individuals to thrive.
Hermline Calliste has been working at EIHAB for nearly three years. While working as a DSP at the agency’s Pilling 111 residence, Hermline helps to care for eight extraordinary women, ranging from 20 to 55 years old.
Throughout her shifts, Hermline offers nurturing guidance and encouragement, helping individuals strengthen their daily living skills and meet their goals toward greater self-sufficiency. “I treat every task like an activity, not a job,” she explains. “I make it fun for them.” In the morning, individuals have the opportunity to choose their favorite music to play during breakfast, putting them in a good mood to start the day. They actively set the table, organizing placemats, plates, and utensils before each meal. “With every activity, individuals become more confident, comfortable, and happy,” Hermline points out.
When it comes to daily grooming and hygiene, Hermline makes those activities fun, too. “I enjoy braiding the ladies’ hair and having nice conversations with them,” she says. “When they feel pretty and look pretty, it makes them feel really good.”
Hermline’s nurturing, supportive demeanor stems from her 13-year teaching career in her home country of Grenada. “When I taught kindergarten, I learned all about having patience and helping others. It’s like second nature to me. This doesn’t feel like a job. It’s just me being me.”
Hermline’s gentle approach has had a wonderful impact on the ladies of Pilling 111. In the time that she’s worked at the residence, Hermline has seen marked improvement in their behavior and increased self-sufficiency.
“When I first started working there, I used to have to wake the individuals each morning; now they wake up themselves,” Hermline says.
Communication skills have also improved dramatically. “I teach individuals how to communicate their needs and self-advocate,” Hermline explains. If individuals need help showering or dressing themselves, they know to ask for assistance. Any time they’re curious or unsure about something, Hermline encourages them to ask questions. And they often do! “We talk about everything,” Hermline says. “The ladies know that they can always come to me.”
Hermline is right by their side, offering guidance and support whenever they need it, especially during medical appointments. She also accompanies individuals on community outings and marvels at the continued progress that she has seen. “When we’re at the deli, individuals display excellent money management skills. It makes them feel more independent,” she points out. Kings Plaza and Dollar Tree are other popular shopping destinations that individuals enjoy.
In her work, Hermline remains accessible at all times. She never hesitates to work extra shifts, and her dedication is deeply appreciated by both individuals and staff. “Hermline goes above and beyond to help individuals,” says Melisa Adams, Residential Manager, Pilling 111. “She wears many hats at the residence – she’s a hairdresser, a counselor, she does everything. She is very attentive and always makes the individuals feel that she is engaged with them.”
For anyone starting out in the human services field, Hermline has sage advice for new DSPs to succeed. “Always have a calm demeanor. If an individual is upset, never get mad or raise your voice. And always practice good listening skills,” she advises.
For Hermline, the individuals’ happiness is what matters the most. If they are happy, then she is happy. “The smiles on their faces inspire me,” Hermline says. “I know I can make a difference. That’s what makes me want to come to work every day. “
Thank you Hermline for everything that you do!