My name is Bev, my husband Stuart and I returned to Australia in August 2017 and were introduced to Like Family with a glowing recommendation by a friend of ours. We were attracted by the social work set up and the opportunity to have our own schedule and the ability to apply for the work we wanted.
As it turned out we have a variety of activities and responsibilities at times making our role versatile and inspiring to do. In many ways it’s been life changing and it has opened our eyes in a much greater way to the needs, experiences and battles that so many fight with disabilities.
Initially we didn’t really know what to expect and we found the Like Family support system to be very good in using the technology for booking as well as helping us to connect with clients and the overall positiveness of all communication was refreshing.
We look for new and different things we can bring to the table, new games, different outings etc. For companionship, it’s easy to see areas of need where progress can be made but the key seems to be going at their pace and putting our heart into the time we have together. We have learned a lot of patience and learned to see what is working and what isn’t, not trying to push our program but just go with the flow to develop the relationship.
It takes time to build a relationship with anyone and the longer you work with someone the more you discover. I think another thing we discovered is how important consistency is with the folks we help. Relationships develop and we feel it’s important to build that and let them know that we can be counted on. If we need some time off we give plenty of notice, and same with any changes in schedule.
I was a little shaky at first, not knowing if working in this area was for me or not. I’ve tried to put myself in the position of the client or family and ask myself what kind of support or help I’d like if I was in their situation. The person I’m assisting could be my mum or dad, or brother or sister… or one of my kids and I want to give it my heart – I think Social Carers have to work from the heart and I hope I am doing that.
For example with a 19 year old who has cerebral palsy, I look for extra jobs to do in the home that he can help with in some way. He loves to be a help and has a great eye for detail. We clean together, I ask for his help and opinion on things and we play board games, and even watch wrestling. I had never watched it before, but he is enthusiastic about it, so I am too.
With an older client who has Alzheimer’s both Stuart and I take him on short day trips weekly, taking the train and ferry. We have fun and on the last outing threw a ball around and played catch. When we got back to the house he didn’t remember what we had done, but he did enjoy the moment when we were doing it and I think that is what is important. Living in the moment!! Initially he treated us as strangers, but there has been a growing recognition and ease.
Another client who suffers from a number of ailments both physically and psychologically has been enjoying outings, coffee, movies and drives. I also help in the home where needed and am encouraging a higher physical standard, cooking a meal when possible and doing what I can to improve their quality of life. I learned not to be stuck to doing what I think, but to really ask and actively seek what they’d like help with. This also applies to a mother I help with her autistic 10 year old. As a Social Carer we have to be flexible, plans don’t always work as planned, but I think that’s one of the great things about the job, it’s never boring and there is always plenty to do.
For more information about becoming a Social Carer click here, and see if you have what it takes to become a Social Carer!