NADSP E-Badge Earner of the Month: Robert Noerr

by | Dec 6, 2021 | News

Congratulations to Robert Noerr​ who has been selected as the final NADSP E-Badge Academy Earner of the Month of 2021.We are recognizing Robert this December for his excellent ‘Self Advocate Ally’ E-Badge submission. This badge represents a Direct Support Professionals’ work in supporting the individual to advocate for him or herself by encouraging the individual to speak for his or her self. This badge is part of the Empowerment and Advocacy CMS Core Competency. It also aligns with the NADSP Competency Area of Participant Empowerment.

Robert works for InVision Human Services in Wexford, Pennsylvania. InVision Human Services’ mission is to provide services and products designed to transform the lives of people who are experiencing significant life challenges. To learn more about InVision, click here.

Robert’s Experiences With The NADSP E-Badge Academy

The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) recently asked Robert about his experiences with the NADSP E-Badge Academy. The questions covered how he carries out his work as a direct support professional, the skillsets he demonstrates on a daily basis, the impact that the E-Badge Academy has had on his professional recognition, and how he gets credit for competency.

Describe the story you shared in carrying out that competency:

​I worked with a client who was nonverbal. We developed a good relationship and communication skills in my time working with this gentleman. He was enrolled in classes outside of our company’s normal services. He was becoming visibly frustrated with the work in these classes. Through communicating with him using various approaches, including picture boards, I learned he was not interested in the subjects he was being taught, and felt it wasn’t challenging him. I worked with him, and we came up with an education plan at home that focused on subjects he was interested in and focused more on hands on applications. We started learning about the weather, and took temperature, rain, and barometer measurements every day while learning about them together. He was very excited with this, and more interested in helping set up other plans for his education program.

Why is this competency so important to DSPs?

So often as DSP’s we feel we know what’s best for our clients. This comes from a place of compassion, but often overlooks the goals of the people we work with. By constantly striving for self-advocacy for the people we support, we ensure it’s their goals, not our own, that we are helping them achieve.

How have you used this competency in your work?

I try to use it every day. So often as DSP’s we get into a routine that is comfortable for ourselves. Often what we have had fun doing many times before, we assume that will again be a good plan for today. I have found that this is often a mistake, as the person I support sometimes has different ideas and goals for how to spend the day. By prioritizing self-advocacy, I feel the person I support is much happier knowing they control the flow of our blocks, and their input is the most important thing in planning our days.

How can other DSPs replicate your practices?

Two things I think would help is first constantly reminding yourself every single day as a DSP that you have a lot to learn. Even if you work for the same person for twenty plus years, there is always room to learn and grow. After that, the second part is to constantly communicate and seek feedback with the people we support.  Even if you have a great idea of what goals or activities the person you support would like to work towards, make sure you are constantly communicating with them to make sure they know it’s their opinion that matters, and they control what these activities and goals they are working towards are, even if they are the ones you already had in mind.

How does the NADSP E-Badge Academy benefit your agency?

By making DSP’s that are in the E-Badge Academy  reflect on their performance as DSP’s. Sometimes I have learned something new through the process. However, the more common thing I’ve had happen, and arguably more important, is that even if I knew the area of competency I am working on, I am forced to reflect on exactly how my performance at work has exemplified that competency or let it down. This has encouraged me to actively think more when I am at work “Am I exemplifying the competencies I have learned with this action?”  I have been amazed on how this has improved my performance in helping provide support.

How does NADSP E-Badge Academy benefit the people you support?

By making me a better DSP, it has improved my relationship with the person I support.  As a result, they have benefitted by having more control over their life, better communication with me, and this has facilitated better outcomes in the goals the person I support has outlined for themselves.

Here is an example:  The person I support has goals related to health and hygiene, that are related to interpersonal goals of making friends. Often, we had difficulty bathing in a consistent manner.  Previously, I would emphasize the importance of bathing, and talk about the benefits of it, but often this wouldn’t encourage my client to bath. However, after my experience in the E-Badge Academy, I decided to try to dig deep in what some of the causes of a reluctance to bath might be. We discussed many things, and one of the biggest successes we had was realizing the person I supported hated the lack of water pressure we had. In the few weeks since changing the shower head, we have gotten a shower almost every day.

What does the future hold for your involvement in the NADSP E-Badge Academy?

I plan to complete all of the badges to make me a more well-rounded DSP.

How has NADSP E-Badge Academy affected your professional image?

I do feel a stronger identification as a DSP. One of the things that is great about the academy is that it not only helps me become a better DSP, but it also shows how important my work as a DSP is. Sometimes being a DSP can seem thankless, as it can be long stressful hours and sometimes it seems like our work goes unnoticed. These courses have shown me that there are many people who recognize this, and appreciate what it is that I do as a DSP, and also shows me the most important measure of my work isn’t outside praise, but in helping the people we support live their lives to the fullest.

How has NADSP E-Badge Academy affected your skills?

Yes. There are new skills I have learned such as translating terms in a way to the person I support can easily understand. However even more important than that is the skills I have learned in self-reflection that help me ensure I am constantly trying my best to improve my work as opposed to just falling into a routine and not improving.

How does NADSP E-Badge Academy give you credit for competency?

By offering badges not just for reading material but demonstrating through my own writings on my experiences as a DSP. The badges that are given mean more to me because I get them by displaying my competency in my own words in work situations that I have experienced in real life. If I received a competency badge for merely filling out a multiple-choice test, it wouldn’t feel as personal. In addition to these badges representing to my current company that I have these areas of competency of the badges I receive, it also shows any future employers of even clients that I have this area of competency that were proven by an expert reading my own words of my own experiences as a DSP.

Words from InVision Human Services

“We have been extremely impressed with the number of InVision Human Services DSPs that have enrolled in the NADSP E-Badge Academy. It shows that many of our employees value the importance of continuing education and displays their commitment to the people they support. Robert is a perfect example of both characteristics.

While earning the Self-Advocacy Badge reinforces Robert’s commitment to improving himself as a DSP, his application of the skills are even more impressive. He truly embodies the InVision philosophy by supporting the people he serves to find and use their voice to determine and live their vision of a meaningful life. The quality of life of all people supported would be enhanced if every DSP applied this same belief to their work every day. 

I congratulate Robert on his accomplishment and hope it inspires more DSPs to take advantage of this outstanding opportunity.”

-Kim Love, Chief Operating Officer

The NADSP E-Badge Academy

The NADSP E-Badge Academy offers Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and Frontline Supervisors (FLSs)  the ability to earn national certification through stackable electronic badges. These badges demonstrate the knowledge, skills, and values that these professionals utilize every day, recognizing the professional development that might otherwise go unacknowledged.  Through the NADSP E-Badge Academy, DSPs and FLSs are acknowledged for the experience and education that they bring to the human services field.

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The vision of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP) is a world with a highly qualified and professional direct support workforce that partners with, supports, and empowers people with disabilities to lead a life of their choosing. NADSP works to elevate the status of direct support professionals by improving practice standards, promoting system reform, and advancing their knowledge, skills and values, through certification, credentialing, training, professional development, and accreditation services.