Today on the Careseekers' blog we chat to Loretta, an experienced care worker who brings her varied professional and personal experience to the roles she takes on through the Careseekers platform.
What made you become a support worker?
I have always experienced work that is based on caring for people the most meaningful way to earn a living. I have felt a strong motivation to work with people who were left out of society’s mainstream, due to some form of vulnerability, from an early age.
As a school student, I remember taking children who were refugees to the zoo on the weekend and volunteering at a local home for orphaned children to help with homework and take them to the local park. Later on, I worked with a local council as a Community Worker assisting elderly and disabled people to stay in their homes.
I have continued to work with organisations, mainly non-government, whose primary mission is to improve quality of life for folk who are disadvantaged in some way or another. The roles became more complex but the intention remained the same.
What does a typical day look like for you?
This morning I awoke around 7am, which is not very typical; I usually set the alarm for 6am and am up having breakfast shortly afterwards. Last night, I baked some muffins to take to a meeting this morning because I enjoy bringing something homemade to this sort of event.
Today I chaired that meeting of a group I am involved with and then drove, for an hour, to meet a new client. I was with her for two hours and afterwards, I did some shopping before driving for another hour to meet a friend for dinner. After dinner, we walked for about forty minutes and then I drove home, which was another hour or so away. Usually, in the evening, I watch something on ABC iview and then pop off to bed to read for awhile before falling asleep!
How do you get to know a client?
Today, for instance, I met a new client and we sat down in a café for two hours. She talked and I listened and occasionally I asked a question. This is a good way to get a sense of who a person is and the sorts of issues they are grappling with; or what is front and centre for them. I listen very closely when I am with a person who is sharing their stories with me. I want them to know that I am interested, because I am. Questioning can be a sort of intervention and can interrupt their flow of thought so I am judicious with my questions. Also, they are leading the way in terms of what they choose to share with me and it is a privilege for me to be taken into their confidence.
Today, with this new client, it was evident that she has a lot of chaos and she made a lot of conflicting statements. This is what I got to know about her; and that she would like to continue working with me and I would like to continue working with her.
What would you like people to know about being a support worker that they may not know?
Listening closely and giving a person your full attention is a very powerful thing to do. Allowing someone to feel heard and being responsive to them when they speak; showing them that you are hearing them and fully engaged with them is a way of deeply caring for them. Some people, many people, especially very isolated people may not have been really listened to before or sometimes, not for a long time.
What makes a good client/care worker match?
Hmmm…I imagine shared interests would help. A lot of mentally ill people are challenged with lack of motivation and they can also be very easily stressed and feel pressured by suggestions to “do” anything. Some of the people I find myself caring for tend to be like this and I am conscious of having a gently, gently approach in terms of suggesting ideas to expand their focus. Possibly having a similar temperament would be a good idea. Someone more extraverted and loud is likely for feel more at ease with a similar person and the opposite is probably true as well.
To view Loretta's profile on the Careseekers platform [click here.]