What is a Developmental Service Worker (DSW)?

Developmental Service Worker with a client in wheelchair

January 21 was DSW Day. It’s a day SEIU Healthcare celebrates every year to acknowledge the important role DSWs play in our healthcare system.

What is a DSW, you may ask?

They are healthcare workers who care for people suffering from a mental disability. This covers a variety of different developmental and mental health issues. Many times these clients need a high level of supervision in their daily living.

Sometimes their clients suffer from several different disorders at the same time. For example, a client could be suffering from three different conditions: a developmental disability, Tourette syndrome and Parkinson’s disease. Their health and psychological needs require constant attention.

Many times their clients get frustrated and upset over circumstances they can’t control. They can be abusive to themselves and others. Many DSWs have an important soft skill that they use to talk to their clients, calm them down and uncover the root of their anger.

Not only do these professionals look after day-to-day items like cleaning, laundry and looking after their financial affairs, DSWs also take their clients out to the community. They cannot be cooped up in a home all day. They need to visit the mall, dine at a restaurant, and do some volunteer work. Some DSWs have even helped their clients find jobs in the community.

Over 4,000 SEIU Healthcare members work in the community care sector. Hats off to them. They look after those who cannot look after themselves.


Questions? Need help?