What It Takes to Become a Developmental Service Worker in Canada?

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    Jul 08, 2014
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What It Takes to Become a Developmental Service Worker in Canada? Photo by Jason White

Developmental service workers (DSWs) are specially trained individuals who provide support and personal care to people who have developmental or intellectual disabilities. They may work with people of different ages and disabilities, ensuring that their basic health, safety and care needs are met. They support their clients in achieving their personal health goals, both physical and emotional, by encouraging skill development, advocating for their inclusion in the society and building connections between individuals, families and community partners.

What Is It Like Being a Developmental Service Worker?

DSWs may work in a variety of settings, such as residential, institutional, community or any specific work location. They are responsible for providing person-directed supports and services and safety to people with developmental disabilities. They also employ and adapt formal and informal strategies to support the learning of people with intellectual disabilities. In addition, they are expected to help people fill valued role in the society and develop personal support skills.

The job of a DSW is extremely challenging as it involves working with people who are not quick in grasping things. It requires a lot of patience and emotional stability to work with individuals who are vulnerable and are unable to take care of themselves. Moreover, individuals considering this profession must be dedicated to serve the community and bring a positive change in the lives of people who are intellectually or developmentally disable.

What It Takes to Become a DSW in Canada?

Although no formal qualifications are required to serve the community but the job of a DSW is extremely specific. It requires a deep understanding of the life experiences of the people who have intellectual disabilities. It is also important to possess the ability to promote life skills among intellectually disable people, so that they can gain independence and be able to perform their daily tasks.

As this is a specialized discipline, aspiring developmental service workers are required to undergo formal post-secondary education. Centennial College's two-year post-secondary diploma in developmental service worker provides students with the knowledge, skills and training required to begin their careers in this field. The program curriculum blends theory and practical, offering students a strong foundation in the field of intellectual disabilities and critical knowledge and skills as well as hands-on training in real world settings in the areas of teaching and provision of personal support.

It's an intensive program that emphasizes on in-depth understanding in intellectual disabilities, critical thinking, problem solving, values clarification, health promotion and personal well-being, social psychology, community and family role and teaching. The students also develop strong interpersonal, facilitation, time management, team-work and reflective thinking skills.

Prior hands-on experience in working with intellectually disable people is also required in order to begin career in this field, in addition to the knowledge and skills. Keeping this in mind, the program incorporates two research projects, two field seminars and two industry field placements, allowing students apply their learning into practice and gain real world experience.

The diploma program opens doors to a variety of careers as educational assistants, job coaches, family support workers, integration facilitators, employment support workers and residential support workers.

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The author of the article, discusses what it is like being a developmental service workers in Canada and what knowledge, skills and training are required to begin a career in this field.

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