What are the requirements to becoming a DSP at MERT?
Anyone who wants to work at MERT must meet the following requirements. You must complete an Employment Application, which can be found on our website, or can be mailed or emailed to you, or you can pick one up at our office in Bangor. An applicant needs to have their own personal vehicle and insurance, and the vehicle must be available to them anytime of the day. Proof of the highest level of education you completed is required; you must be able to furnish a minimum of a high school diploma or GED equivalent. A thorough background check is done for any employee at MERT. The background checks consists of a criminal check, driver’s license check, Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services check and work references, which you provide us once you are in the interview process.
What does a DSP do at MERT?
DSPs work a full or part-time schedule every week providing support to our adult clients, known as “consumers” to live in their own homes and have a safe and meaningful life in their community. Our consumers range in age from their mid-20’s to their late 70’s.
What kind of disabilities do MERT consumers have?
Our consumers, who live in the Greater Bangor area, have Intellectual, Physical and Mental Health Disabilities and Autism. Some of the consumers have challenges such as being non-verbal, or using walkers and wheelchairs to get around, and others have developed other health conditions over time such as Adult Diabetes.
Can I get hired if I don’t have any DSP experience?
Yes, experience is not required. MERT provides in-depth paid training for all of our new hires, whether you have prior DSP experience or have never worked in this field before. Our team of trainers provide extensive ‘classroom training’, and also get you started on doing computer-based training curriculum working toward earning your DSP Certification. We also have you do ‘job shadowing’ with an experienced DSP and your supervisor (known as an RA, a Residential Administrator), which entails training you in the consumer’s residence where you will be working.
How many consumers will I work with at one time?
MERT has approximately 39 consumers. If you work full-time doing our 2½ Day Shift, where you live in the consumers home over the same 2½ days every week, you most likely will work as the single DSP staff with two consumers. MERT has 16 of these homes in Bangor, Brewer and a couple other towns in the area. You could also work either part-time or full-time with one of our Community-Based Consumers. We have 8-9 consumers who are community-based; they live more independently on their own or sometimes with their family. Community-Based DSPs typically work one-on-one with a consumer, generally during the hours from 7:00AM-10:00PM.
What kind of background do you need to be a DSP at MERT?
MERT typically has around 75 DSPs working the same part or full-time schedule week in and out. Our DSPs have a range of experience. Some of them grew up in households where a family member had Intellectual Disabilities, and became ‘caregivers’ early in their life, so they have personal experience. We have a large segment of college students from the local schools working part and full-time schedules around their course load. Some of the students working at MERT are going into careers directly related to this field, and will become Occupational Therapists and Physical Therapists. Other students are studying in fields of academics that have nothing to do with this work, and are majoring in Engineering, Marketing, Business, Finance, etc. Students enjoy the wide-variety of flexible hours and shifts provided in a business that operates on a 24/7 schedule, which fit around their classes. Still other DSPs have finished their ‘professional careers’ in areas like teaching, and do this job to stay active. Many applicants have no experience, and we are happy to train you.
I work in retail, or fast food, or customer service, and don’t see myself having any type of career doing these things. What is different about becoming a DSP at MERT?
DSPs are in a high-demand field in the Bangor area. MERT provides ongoing training and gives you the chance to work with other professionals who enjoy making a difference in someone else’s life. You can begin a career where you work with others who are compassionate about helping and advocating for our consumers in their daily lives.
What does a DSP typically do in the job?
MERT wants to hire people to do things ‘with’ our consumers, not ‘for’ our consumers so they can maintain their independence. It is very important we hire people who are good teachers and role models, and who will promote ‘community integration’ for our consumers by providing transportation to bring them to their day program, local job, and do errands such as grocery shopping or taking them to doctor appointments, Special Olympics practices or competitions locally and statewide. Two of the most important skills DSPs learn is how to administer the consumer’s medications daily, and to do daily documentation, which focuses on keeping accurate, hand-written notes pertaining to the consumer’s personal goals.