In March of 2016, I became a group home direct care worker in Isabella. This means that with my CPR/First Aid certification and other trainings through Listening Ear before employment, I get to work directly with patients doing what I will be doing after graduation. I am working with adults-elderly aged patients with disabilities as a mentor to ensure a safe, clean living environment while promoting independence. I will be assisting them with budgeting, shopping, meal preparation, community activities, and occupational health.
I am a direct care worker working with six patients in a group home who have a range of disabilities, some of which, impair their vision, vocal abilities, or cognitive abilities. I am there to assist them with bathing, brushing their teeth, eating, dressing, going to the bathroom, and other activities. I will be working with catheters, taking their blood pressure, using lifts to transport them from their wheelchair to bed or bathroom, and even doing some physical therapy activities. I also have an in-home help position working with one man who has psoriasis and down syndrome. Every Wednesday, I pick him up from MMI and take him to the Listening Ear Crisis Center to pick up his money from his small business. This small business consists of making snacks (perferably healthy) to put out at different buildings and to earn some extra cash. After collecting and counting his cash, we go to make his snacks for the next week in a building down the street. This involves having him learn measurements, puts himself in a social situation with coworkers, and helps him understand hard work and reward. We then redistribute the food and I drop him off at his fathers house. This man is such a loving, hard working, and dedicated man. He loves seeing the “customers” and baking those healthy snacks to also teach him the importance of eating healthy since he is overweight. This man brings joy to my Wednesday’s and I am thankful to have the opportunity to work with him and the other consumers in the group home. I am really making great connections with them and understanding their hardships further.
This “job” doesn’t even feel like a job as I am not serving those who just want to eat BDUBS, serving coffee, or ripping tickets for a movie; I am helping the underserved population of elderly and disabled make a living. All of these things are reasons why I feel occupational therapy is an important field to go into as I will be assisting these patients in living their life to the best of their ability. I feel as this is great patient care and these hours of work actually mean something to me and my skills for the future.
Working with people with disabilities is also a very humbling experience and why I love OT so much. Hearing people say they are underprivileged or having a terrible day, makes me rethink my values and blessings. I have only been working at Listening Ear for a month so far and I can tell very quickly just how privileged, lucky, blessed, I am. Being able to wake up, get up and dressed on my own, brush my teeth, eat, shower, do whatever I want when I want on my own terms is being blessed. Being a healthy individual and fully able to do anything I put my mind to, is lucky. And I just wish everyone had the opportunity to work with people with disabilities just to realize how well off they are. Compared to the pain, dependency on others, and amount of extra time it takes to complete a task for these consumers, is incredible. Their attitudes are usually wonderful and showing just how “able” they are even when their life is so much harder. I feel people need to reevaluate their life when they say their life sucks or they hate their life, because that one bad day or week is nothing compared to what these consumers/people with disabilities go through everyday.