I made a child cry!

‘Today I made a child cry’, I tweeted a while back on the PHASE Tweeter page.

That tweet should not have made it to the tweeter sphere, but it did because it has significance with the way I carry my duty as a support worker. I am not employed to make children cry. That is not the role of a disability support worker. My role is to provide support specific to individuals needs while promoting the individual’s independence.

A support worker is the platform that individuals living with disabilities use for achieve their day-to-day aspirations. I have worked in this industry for over 9 years now. I have worked for small organisations as well as big ones. I now work for Perth Healthcare and Support Enterprise (PHASE).

Back to that tweet.

I was on shift one day and was assigned with wot with a 6 year old, high functioning autistic boy. We were supposed to have go on a group outing that day but I didn’t think this child was best suited for that outing because of his outgoing and can-do nature. I spoke to my supervisor on shift and suggested that maybe a one-on-one adventure to the local beach and cafe strip would benefit the child more than a group outing.

​Round House, Fremantle

We embarked on a journey to the beach and to the local cafes. We visited the local park and toured the business precinct of the local city. This kid was full of energy and he just couldn’t stop. I was equal to the task and I kept him busy as much as he kept me busy.

At the end of my shift, I told the child that I was leaving and another support worker was going to take over my role and support him as much as I did.

The child cried!

He didn’t want me to leave, not because he wasn’t safe with the other support person or unsure of their capabilities, but because, together, we had had so much fun and he didn’t think anyone was capable of performing their duties as good as I did. He didn’t want the fun to stop.

He begged me to ask him father to extend his hours so we could be together for a while longer. His father had plans as well and there was nothing else he could do but get his child.

I get my kick from the knowledge that I help make a positive contribution to people’s lives. One of the first tweets on my business page was about making a child cry. Yes, I made a child cry.

 Perth Zoo

I wear that as a badge of honour. I am so proud of my efforts. I put in a lot of passion into my work. I am always thrilled when I get good feedback about my work. It means a lot to me. Even bad feedback means a lot to me too. Adverse feedback tells me how I can improve my work, it tells me where my shortcomings are. I cherish everything I get from individuals and people I work with.

I am a skilled support worker because of the I dedicate my passion to understand the emotional state of the individuals I support. Emotions can make or break your shift, they determine how well you start or end your shift. Mastering the emotional state of individual is key to a successful relationship with anyone, especially so with individuals with disabilities.

A dedicated support worker must invest time and energy to investigate what the emotional state of the individuals they are supporting so they can work out the best support plan for that individual. A support worker must have empathy, an emotional state that allows someone to ‘walk in the shoes’ of another person. This attribute allows you to understand the emotional state of another individuals. You will gain respect from that individual if your are empathic towards them.

Social skills are about how you manage your communication, verbal and nonverbal and how you deliver both bad and good news. You have to be a good communicator, someone who knows when to open their mouth and what and how they deliver news. Conflict resolution is another key ingredient in the social skills area of emotions.

 Kings Park Botanical Gardens

A skilled support worker should be true to their core values. Core values are the difference between making a moral and ethical judgement call. If you have strong core values, there shouldn’t be an issue that should compromise your moral and ethical standing because you hold true and strong that which is important to you.

Taking time to reflect on what is important in the work that we do is the motivation we need to do a lot more to better the lives of the less privileged in our communities. Motivated workers are usually optimistic workers and that is why I have confidence in the work and business I am lucky to operate in. I face challenges and sometimes failure, but I choose to focus on the things that make this a duty worthwhile. Reflecting on that tweet, that is OUR motivation: to make other kids cry too.

We would be happy if we made other children cry for the right reasons because we self-regulate and are aware of our own emotional state and that of the individuals we work with and for. I lead a team of dedicated staff and I have to be aware of their emotional states if we are going to be an effective as a collective. Together, we have to be aware of the emotional states of each other and of the individuals we support.

PHASE’ has Emotion Intelligence built into its Induction and Training program. Our industry has been crying for a new approach to business as usual and are facilitating that paradigm shift with this approach. We are the change we want.

– Jonas Mulombwa

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