Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Chicken Pot Pie Stories

Story 1
Everyone deserves to be treated equally
Developmental Services is one of the most rewarding and challenging fields to work in. I face many challenges and barriers in my job. To support adult individuals to live a life of inclusion in a society that is not always inclusive is in my opinion one of the most important careers a person can take on. 
I work in this field because I believe in that all people have intrinsic value, and deserve to be treated equally in society. I have supported people that have formally lived in institutions and now have their own home, as well, I have supported people newly supported coming from a family setting.  No matter how or whom I support I find myself recognizing my impact on these people’s lives. So when I have a personal crisis and go into work I am immediately reminded that I am very lucky to live my life as I choose. I don’t have to fight for my right to have choice, my right to live with whom I want, to eat when I want etc….
Although we as support workers do everything we can to enable clients to make their own choices, oftentimes choices are made for individuals. There are many legitimate reasons for this, I understand that, but to be stressed about some random thing in my life generally is not worth the stress. I mean here we support people that get up every morning and live a life dependent on others, and they are still smiling, and a coffee can make their day.

Story 2
People who care
I chose to work in this field when I was 16 years old. I have had relatives with special needs on both sides of my family­–two aunts who were born in the 50s yet both lived at home against the doctor’s advice. I was able to spend time with both of them and realize that even though they were "different" they were family and were special in their own way.
Growing up, I saw both the good and bad of people when out with my aunts and realized that too many people have a negative view of the "handicapped".  I felt that people with special needs needed people who care to support them.
My mom took the DSW course and also works in this field. That meant I was again able to see a broader spectrum of special needs and realized that being able to support people was something I could do and so well.
Working in this field has allowed me to make connections with people. Meeting people I supported over 20 years ago, seeing their face light up and talking about things we did is very heart warming.
This job allows me to do things that I probably would not be able to do in other occupations and to support people to local events as well as events elsewhere. I have been fortunate to meet many people who with just one or two words can make a dreary day brighter.

Story 3
Remembering Dave
Dave was a kind gentle man who thrived within the contentment he received from routine and who appreciated life’s most simple joys: family, food, friends, music, and a profound admiration towards the Three Stooges only truly understood by those of the male gender.
Dave and I shared a love of music.  I enjoyed as much as he did our regular trips to music World where Dave was a loyal customer who all staff knew by name.  Dave loved a wide range of music and was very up on the latest artists but as we age it gets harder to keep up with what’s new. Somewhere in the mid nineties, somewhere between Soundgarden and Pearl Jam, Dave aptly labeled all new music  “Big Shiny Tunes”.  As I didn’t know the names of most of the new bands either, this suited us both.
Aside from Larry, Curly, Moe and the Annual Pearl Avenue Christmas tradition of watching Mr. Bean struggle to get a turkey off his head; Dave wasn’t much of a TV watcher.  He’d much rather listen to music and browse through his beloved catalogues, especially the ones his sister Loretta got from England.  Until a creative and thoughtful staff hoping to broaden his horizons (or find something new to put on that dam IPP) chose to tape the over three hour long Beatles Anthology when it was first broadcast on TV.  Several hundred viewing hours later, the tape wearing thin and half of the staff team secretly cursing me, Dave and I expanded our Music World repetorie and began to check out other Beatles videos.
I struggled upon writing this on my use of the word friend, as it is no secret to anyone that 18 of the 19 years I’ve known Dave has been in the capacity of a paid staff and separating home and work is a vital survival tool of the trade.  But it often takes life’s most difficult crisis or greatest joys for us to realize that keeping the human in human services is important and that life often has its own ways of defining human relationships that cannot be predetermined by policy, procedures, or even our own minds personal insistence on what those of us in the sector like to call “rational detachment”  For somewhere in-between holidays and picnics, wax museums, birthday parties, fun times and sad times, the heart triumphs over the logic of the mind.
This past year was a difficult one for Dave, despite the fine care received from the staff at the Roger’s street site but this past year I was also no longer a paid staff. So on a good day before Christmas when Dave was able to say to me “Are you my friend?”, I was able to respond and feeling like a giant boulder was lifted from my shoulders was able to say “Yes Dave I’ll always be your friend”.
This was originally read as a eulogy by a member who supported this gentleman for many years. He passed away in the local Peterborough hospital where he was waiting for several months for a bed in Long Term Care.

Story 4
Why I work in this field
I started work in this field because I sort of fell into it: Someone in management recommended that I apply because of my demeanor and abilities with people of all ages.
Fours years later I am still here, not so much for employment, but because I have fallen a little in love with the individuals’ joy for life. Watching and interacting with those I support at dances, dinners, at the mall, appointments and day-to-day activities around the home is a fantastic way to help me remember it's the simple things in life that matter. Friendship, family, music, laughs, a cup of coffee and a hug. So, yea, I work in the field partly for selfish reasons (love, joy, and personal reminders of the meaning of life), but I also work here because I like to see that everyone has an equal right to a fulfilling and meaningful existence. I want everyone to know that they matter, sick or healthy, old or young, able or disabled, wealthy or poor. It's who I am.

Story 5
I would do it all again
I have been working in the developmental Field for 24 years now. When I first started, it was only going to be a summer job.  I had no idea that it would ever be a career.

Working in the developmental services field has given me more satisfaction than any other job I have had. I knew after a summer that this would be a challenging career that requires physical mental and emotional energy.

I needed to be more flexible and creative and positive and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.

The experience has been one I would do all over again even with its challenges. At the end of my workday I know that I have made a difference. And the difference these people have made in my life is something you can’t get in another career.


Story 6
I love to see people grow and learn
I have been employed with Community Living Thunder Bay (CLTB) for 25 years and have worked in a variety of settings supporting people with disabilities. I really enjoy working with a variety of people.
I have been fortunate to provide supports to people in the recreation area of our agency. I enjoy watching people trying new recreation opportunities in the city. I also enjoy connecting people with similar interests and some have still remained friends. To see the joy on their faces after trying a new sport, brings satisfaction that I am doing my job.
There have been numerous people that are still attending community activities and are quite comfortable attending either on their own or with support staff. I love to see people grow and learn from trying new things.
I continue to provide supports to people of all ages and I learn from people each and every day. I absolutely love my job because I enjoy seeing people have fun and gain new experiences throughout our journey.
Thank you,

Story 7
Life lessons
I work in a home with four of the most interesting young men. Everyday there is a challenge placed in front of me. These young men have taught me many life lessons.
One of the most significant moments I recall is the day I became very ill at work. I fainted in the kitchen and fell to the floor. As I am a diabetic, I was in a very serious situation.
Jake, a client I support remembered what to do and called 911. He also held my hand while on the phone with emergency until the ambulance arrived. I guess the life lesson I learned here is that support workers are there to ensure the individuals we support are safe, but to have the roles reversed and have an individual save my life is incredibly humbling.

Story 8
Keeping a smile on my face
I work at a very stressful site where it can become extremely difficult to keep a smile on my face. I have a co-worker who posts a daily note on the bulletin board that makes you smile almost every time I read it. Having this moment every day actually changes my mindset. Sometimes it’s a joke, sometimes a positive affirmation, and on occasion it’s a funny story that happened to them that day. I have come to count on these posts.

Story 9
Lucky to be a support worker
When I started in this field it was only supposed to be temporary. I was just going to do this until I got something better. 15 years later I couldn’t even consider doing anything else. I love my job. I am part of a team that is lucky enough to work every day to better people’s lives. I mean in what other job can you go to work and have people excited to see you, and rely on you to make their day worthwhile.
I personally feel very lucky to be a support worker in developmental services. I am glad I decided to stay and I have come to realize I am very good at this.

Story 10
What matters in life
I support individuals in a group home and have been lucky enough to have stayed in the same site for 12 years. Over those years I have supported many different people but there is one man that I will never forget. He taught me the importance of what matters in life.
One morning, while rushing around to complete my morning duties, he said "Sit with me have a coffee with me" I responded with "in a bit I have to get the laundry done." His response was "ok, but does the laundry want you to have coffee with them" it made me stop and smile.
It was at that moment I realized I needed to spend more time with what matters, not on what can wait. That man past away a few months later and I will forever be grateful to him for wanting me to be a part of his life journey and for teaching me a life lesson.

Story 11
Why I work in this field

I live for the "aha" moments. I worked with a young lady who has a hard time concentrating on any one thing at a time. With patience, re-direction, encouragement, we've been able to "stay in the moment" for as long as half an hour. This is a huge deal!

Story 12
A day in the life of a full-time support worker
My day always starts with a welcoming good morning, or good afternoon.  It’s a great way to start my shifts. The people I support are always so eager to let me know how welcome I am coming through the door. Even when I have had a bad day, coming into work actually changes my mood drastically. When I look in the eyes of the people I support they are looking to me to make their day successful. Not a day goes by that I don’t realize or am reminded that my job is dependent on ensuring people live the best possible life. Our jobs are people’s lives! 

Story 13
Advocating for a more fulfilling life
The most important part of my job is to advocate for the individuals I support. I currently work with an individual that suffers from a bowel disorder. When I began to support this gentleman I noticed that there were no medical records for symptoms he had been feeling.
When I questioned the team and supervisor I was told that his family would not allow him to see a doctor. He is 45 years old and I felt an internal rage at the thought of this adult being told he could not see a doctor. 
I polled the team and we started to chart the symptoms. Once we had a few months of data I requested his parents attend a staff meeting. I presented the data and was once again told no, he was not to see a doctor.  So I went to the rights committee we have in our agency. After a long process, this man was finally taken to a doctor. He was diagnosed with colitis. We have been able to help this man live a much more fulfilling life because of my advocating.

Story 14
Courage to lean on a friend
When I got up that morning the sun was just coming over the trees. I decided to go out and work in my gardens. Suddenly, my flowers were flooded with glowing sunshine; I turned and faced the warmth of the sun.
A beautiful young girl walked very slowly into my backyard. Her head was down and she had sadness about her. She was very shy but seemed curious too. Her name was Crystal. She was six years old with long, uncombed hair and wearing a dirty dress.
I shared with her what I was trying to grow and how working with the earth makes me feel good. Crystal seemed to be interested; her eyes grew wide with excitement. I asked her if she would like to have her own part of the garden and her face lit up with a smile.
Crystal started to look at all the seeds that I had. I knew she lived a few houses away from me so I told her that she could grow food for her family. After a while she grew hungry and said she was going home to get her lunch. She came back with a raw potato and ate that. I thought it was a strange thing to have for a meal. When she went home to get her supper she came back with a handful of raw pasta, which I thought even odder.
I started asking her about her parents, she told me that her Dad left and her mother was sick in bed a lot. I convinced Crystal to let me meet her mother. She took me to her house and brought me in. Her mother, Sandra, was curled up like a cocoon in her bed; I saw tears hover beneath her lashes as she lay there.
As I listened to her story I felt the weight of her depression. Sandra told me that she feels like her gray blanket is soaked with water lying heavy over everything, robbing her of energy.  Feelings of sadness and despair are stripping the colour from her life.
I told her that I thought she was suffering from severe depression and asked her if she would like my support to help her feel better, without judgement. I mentioned to her that she would need to see a doctor and with the proper medicine and therapy such as a support group she could find herself, change her mindset and bring joy back into her life.
Sandra knew that I would help with Crystal while she went to appointments. Crystal and I worked together learning how to grow food and we made some colourful tasty salads. She was very proud of herself and she started skipping through the yard with her head held high.                
One morning as I looked out my window I heard laughter and saw Sandra holding hands with her daughter. There was music of breeze filtering through the flowers and dancing through the sky!
I got Crystal and Sandra involved in community kitchens and they learned a lot about cooking and had a wonderful time together.
Sandra is now a supervisor of a restaurant and has remarried. She is extremely grateful and happy that I came into her life. It takes strength to stand alone but courage to lean on a friend!                                                                           
Someone who cares and loves us unconditionally will welcome us into their family forever. Your life can be what you want it to be. Friends make you smile and encourage you to succeed.

Story 15
I love what I do
I work in this field because it is so rewarding, I love when the people I support smile when I do something that makes them laugh. I love knowing that everyday I am making a difference in their life even if it is something small. The men and women I support are amazing as well I am very fortunate to work with an awesome group of people. I love what I do and I would never change my career choice. Niki Furioso
Niki Niki FuriosoNiki Furioso

Story 16
A success story
I support a person who wanted to go and visit her sister in Toronto. She had never met this sister. The day she was supposed to leave she became very ill and could not go. I was able to change the air flight and have her sister come to visit her at home. She was so grateful and happy it made me feel extremely successful as a support worker and as a human being in general.  The person I supported passed away a week later and her sister was incredibly thankful for the visit and finally having the opportunity to meet her sister.

Story 17
Why I work in this field
I can sum up in a few words why I choose to work in this field:

Thank you


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