We all have our favourites. In interactions with their families, I regularly preface our conversations with saying “I don’t like to say that I have favourites, but…”. As with any relationship regardless of ability, carers and support workers are going to get along with some of their participants more than others.
More often than not, for those participants we get along best with we probably get along with their families as well. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking how lucky I am to have “honorary family member” relationships with a lot of my crew.
But then there’s the other side to that… those families who no matter what we do and what we accommodate for, they’re just never happy. As you read this, there is most certainly a family who comes to mind, who no matter what the interaction, it takes every amount of muscle control to not constantly roll your eyes throughout a conversation.
Lately, I’ve been back and forth with a family who has changed their support schedule four times in the span of two weeks. Appointments have been changed. Days have been cancelled in less than 24 hours. I’ve had to offer hours then pull hours from my workers because the family can’t make up their mind. To be honest, it’s been an uphill battle since we became part of their support network.
It’s important to recognise that we may sometimes not be fully aware of a family’s situation. There could be contributing factors such as mental-health issues, financial burdens, or other personal struggles that are stacked on top of any struggles that come with having a family member with a disability.
Victoria State Government’s Health and Human Services released a 2018 publication called ‘Working together with families and carers – Chief Psychiatrist’s guideline’ where they address multiple topics, including how families and carers often feel they are not acknowledged. The article highlights the importance of meeting the needs and wellbeing of family members and carers, as it helps promote better outcomes with person-centered support.
I support young adults 18-25 with a range of intellectual disabilities. Intellectually, their age rage spans far below that. There’s something about that balance that makes me passionate about what I do. I speak to my clients as if they’re one of my mates, they’re adults – that’s the way they should be spoken to. But there’s a soft side to them, a more innocent side compared to those of us who have full intellectually ability that we seem to lose as we get older. Even the clients that I don’t particularly ‘get along with’ make me laugh, or at least smile once a day. That’s enough to keep me in their corner, supporting them the best way I can.
It ultimately comes down to the importance and well-being of the person you support and not letting your frustrations with their family effect the quality of care you provide. Your contribution and unique understanding of the person you support is a vital piece of their support network. Always remember that, even when it feels like it’s going unnoticed.
– Tyler Murphy, Director of Care