A typical day in my life as a support worker/carer? There’s no such thing. My time is well organised and may sound like routine to some people but in fact no two days are the same.
I help my clients live comfortable, independent, safe lives. Depending on their needs, I may keep them company, assist with everyday care such as eating, dressing, bathing and toileting, or take them shopping, to social events and doctors’ visits.
I also help carers to reduce their stress by providing them with regular breaks. Caring for another person who is disabled, aged, frail, or ill can be mentally, emotionally, and physically demanding. In-home respite allows carers to go out for a few hours and look after themselves for a change. Every client and every family is different. Sometimes we take our clients to day care centre which provides full or half-day care, or they may even spend 2 or 3 weeks in a residential aged care home. Most of the time I help them at home.
Today I visited an elderly lady who has dementia. I like all my clients, but I have a soft spot for her. She has a great sense of humour and loves music. We listen to her favourite Carpenters, talk about her day, go through her photo album. The dinner is prepared by her daughter, I just heat it up. My client is quite independent and usually feeds herself but we have noticed that, like many aging clients, she has problems chewing and swallowing.
As I gained experience I became more confident about my work. My client knows me, likes me, and is more trustful and cooperative. I know her better now, I learn to read her moods and I know how to uplift them. Is it always easy? No, not really.
The first days with a new client may be filled with moments of confusion, “Where do they keep bikkies and coffee? Oh, no sugar, and she hates Weet-Bix. Remember to add fluid thickener to her water or she’ll choke…”
As a disability worker, you must also think on your feet and act fast (accidents do happen). Sometimes your lovely client becomes cranky or aggressive for no apparent reason, and you end up with a bruise. And let me tell you, those sweet, frail seniors can be unbelievably strong and quick. Occasionally you get caught up in family arguments that turn nasty and drain your energy, or deal with unreasonable or insensitive requests.
But I always focus on the positive side of my work, and the many benefits it offers. As I gain more experience I can appreciate that the training I received gave me all the knowledge and practical skills I need to carry out my duties efficiently and effectively. And I ever get stuck – yes, it happens to everyone from time to time – I have a strong team of my colleagues and my supervisors to support me.
The confidence I gained transfers to other areas of my life. Last year I couldn’t pay my bills, couldn’t find a job either, and my self-esteem was very low. Now I’m a qualified, sought-after professional, and have a rewarding job that’s flexible enough to still allow me to spend time with family, gardening or baking.
And when I cook dinner at night I think about my clients sometimes. I realise how lucky I am to have my family, my friends, and my health, and I feel deeply grateful. I think I’ll add this feeling to my list of benefits.
As written by Grace. S.