New York’s direct support professionals have a professional code to guide and maintain high standards for the life-changing work they do each day.

Most of us already have a personal set of values—or ethical code—that guides our lives. The Code of Ethics from the National Alliance of Direct Support Professionals goes beyond personal values; defining the standards that guide our delivery of services and supports.

The NADSP Code of Ethics outlines standards of conduct and professionalism in nine areas.

Person-Centered Supports

As a DSP, my first allegiance is to the person I support; all other activities and functions I perform flow from this allegiance.

Furthermore, as a DSP, I will:

  • Commit to person-centered supports as best practice.
  • Focus first on the person and understand that my role in direct supports will require flexibility, creativity and commitment.
  • Recognize that each person is capable of directing their own life.
  • Honor those who cannot speak by seeking other ways of understanding them.
  • Recognize that the unique culture, social network, circumstances, personality, preferences, needs and gifts of each person I support must be the primary guides for the selection, structure, and use of supports for that person.
  • Advocate with the person I support and others when the demands of the system override the needs of those I support, or when individual preferences, needs or gifts are neglected for any reason.

Promoting Physical and Emotional Well-Being

As a DSP, I will commit to promote the emotional, physical, and personal well-being of the people I support. I will encourage growth and recognize the autonomy of those receiving support while being attentive and energetic in reducing the risk of harm.

Furthermore, as a DSP, I will:

  • Develop a respectful relationship with the people I support that is based on mutual trust and maintains professional boundaries.
  • Understand and respect the values of the people I support and facilitate their expression of choices related to those values.
  • Assist the people I support to prevent illness, avoid unnecessary risk, and understand their options and possible consequences that relate to their physical health, safety, and emotional well-being.
  • Partner with each person and their support network to identify areas of risk and create safeguards specific to these concerns.
  • Challenge other support team members, such as doctors, nurses, therapists, coworkers, and family members, to recognize and support the rights of people to make informed decisions even when these decisions involve personal risk.
  • Be vigilant in identifying and reporting any situation in which the people I support are at risk of abuse, neglect, exploitation or harm.
  • Address challenging behaviors proactively and respectfully. If aversive or deprivation intervention techniques are included in an approved support plan, I will work diligently to find alternatives and pursue the elimination of these techniques from the person's plan.

Integrity and Responsibility

As a DSP, I will support the mission and vitality of my profession to assist people in leading self-directed lives and to foster a spirit of partnership with the people I support, other professionals, and the community.

Furthermore, as a DSP, I will:

  • Be aware of my own values and how they influence my professional decisions.
  • Maintain competency in my profession through learning and ongoing collaboration with others.
  • Assume responsibility and accountability for my decisions and actions.
  • Advance my knowledge and skills through ongoing professional development and lifelong learning.
  • Seek advice and guidance on ethical issues from others as needed to inform decision-making.
  • Recognize the importance of modeling valued behaviors to co-workers, people I support, and the community at-large.
  • Practice responsible work habits.


As a DSP, I will safeguard and respect the confidentiality and privacy of the people I support.

Furthermore, as a DSP, I will:

  • Seek information directly from those I support regarding their wishes in how, when and with whom privileged information should be shared.
  • Recognize that confidentiality agreements are subject to federal and state laws and regulations, as well as agency policies.
  • Recognize that it may be necessary to disclose confidential information in order to prevent serious or imminent harm to the person I support or others.
  • Seek out qualified guidance to help clarify situations where the correct course of action is unclear to me.

Justice, Fairness and Equity

As a DSP, I will affirm the human rights as well as the civil rights and responsibilities of the people I support. I will promote and practice justice, fairness, and equity for the people I support and the community as a whole.

Furthermore, as a DSP, I will:

  • Assist the people I support to access opportunities and resources in the community that are available to everyone.
  •  Facilitate the expression and understanding of rights and responsibilities with the people I support.
  •  Understand the guardianship or other legal representation of the people I support, and work in partnership with legal representatives to assure that the person’s preferences and interests are honored.


As a DSP, I will respect the human dignity and uniqueness of the people I support. I will recognize each person I support as valuable and promote their value within communities.

Furthermore, as a DSP, I will:

  • Seek to understand the people I support today in the context of their personal history, their social and family networks, and their hopes and dreams for the future.
  • Recognize and respect the cultural context (such as gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic class) of the person supported and his/her social network.
  • Honor the choices, preferences, abilities and opinions of the people I support.
  • Protect the privacy of the people I support.
  • Interact with the people I support in a manner that is respectful to them.
  • Provide opportunities for the people I support to be viewed and treated with respect and embraced as integral, contributing members of their communities.
  • Promote the use of language that is respectful, sensitive and contemporary.
  • Practice positive intention and transparency in my interactions.


As a DSP, I will assist the people I support to develop and maintain relationships.

Furthermore, as a DSP, I will:

  • Advocate with the people I support when they do not have opportunities to build and maintain relationships.
  • Recognize the importance of maintaining reciprocal relationships and proactively facilitate relationships between the people I support, their family and friends.
  • Assure that people have the opportunity to make informed choices in safely expressing their sexuality.
  • Separate my personal beliefs and expectations regarding relationships (including sexual relationships) from those of the people I support. If I am unable to separate my own beliefs and preferences in a given situation, I will remove myself from the situation and seek the assistance of a qualified coworker.
  • Refrain from expressing negative views, harsh judgments, and stereotyping of people.


As a DSP, I will assist the people I support to direct the course of their own lives.

Furthermore, as a DSP, I will:

  • Support the rights of individuals to lead self-directed lives, working in partnership with other members of the person’s support network.
  • Promote self-determination in physical, intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual pursuits.
  • Honor a person’s right to assume risk in an informed manner.
  • Recognize that each individual has potential for lifelong learning and growth.
  • Celebrate, accept and learn from life’s rich experiences with people through triumphs and failures.


As a DSP, I will advocate with the people I support for justice, inclusion, and full community participation.

Furthermore, as a DSP, I will:

  • Support people to speak for themselves in all matters, and offer my assistance when needed.
  • Represent the best interests of people who cannot speak for themselves by partnering with the individual and their support team to gather information and find alternative means of expression.
  • Advocate for laws, regulations, policies, and procedures that promote justice and inclusion for all people with disabilities.
  • Promote human, legal, and civil rights for all people and help those I encounter to understand these rights.
  • Seek additional advocacy services when those that I provide are not sufficient.
  • Seek out qualified guidance when I am unsure of the appropriate course of action in my advocacy efforts.
  • Recognize that those who victimize people with disabilities must be held accountable.

Download Code of Ethics