Who Are Direct Care Professionals (DCPs)?

Direct Care Professional (DCP) is the state of Iowa’s umbrella term for individuals who provide “services, care, supervision, and emotional support to Iowans.”  The state’s definition does not include licensed professionals such as registered nurses or licensed social workers. 

DCPs provide hands-on personal care and support for children and adults of all ages in a variety of settings.  These settings include homes, nursing homes, hospitals, assisted living communities, hospices, adult day centers, residential facilities, pre-vocational services, supportive employment, and other environments.  DCPs go by many titles, for example, Direct Support Professional; Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA); Medication, Rehabilitation, Restorative, and Hospice Aide; Patient Care Technician; Personal Care Assistant; and some 30 other titles.

In this toolkit we will use Direct Care Professional (DCP) to refer to all those mentioned above.

Mentor Defined

The term “mentor” can mean different things to different people.  Many find it difficult to distinguish among on-the-job training, a preceptor program, employee orientation and the role of a supervisor.  For clarification we offer these definitions:

1. DCP Mentor:  A trusted counselor, guide, coach, or tutor in a long-term, on-going relationship with another DCP.
2. DCP Preceptor:  Also a trusted counselor, guide, coach, or tutor, but for a short-term or one-time relationship with another DCP.
3. Employee orientation:  A new employee orientation is typically a list of policies and procedures that new employees need to be aware of in order to perform well in their jobs, comply with company/organization policy, and ensure their safety and well-being, e.g., fire safety, payroll schedules, tours of various departments, amenities, and parking.
4. On-the-job training:  Training given to employees as they perform everyday work activities.  Training typically consists of observation and participation in job skills demonstrated by experienced workers until the employee demonstrates competency and can work independently.
5. Supervisor:  An individual who reviews job performance, may provide coaching and guidance, but is not considered a peer and is often not a DCP.  

Introduction: Page 2