We recently sat down with Edmen Disability Support Worker, Jannelle to get her first-hand insights into working in residential care. Read on to her discover what a typical day at work looks like and hear about the memorable moments in her career to date.
My name’s Janelle and I’m a disability support worker. I’ve been working with Edmen for nearly 2.5 years now. I became a support worker many years ago. Seeing people happy is one of the best parts of my job and I still enjoy it as much as I did when I first started as a support worker in 2011. I love seeing people achieve everything they want to achieve in their life.
I help people get ready for the day ahead. Whether it's personal hygiene, medication, going shopping, or heading out to a day program. I support my customers with all those normal things we ourselves do at home. Throughout all of this, I am working within a team and I find at Edmen, we have a really good team. The host companies we work for are really supportive and great to work alongside too.
I usually work in group homes for people with disabilities. There are 5 residents in the home I work in, so there is lots of interaction, not just with our customers but also with the staff. We usually have a lot of fun!
You know, I don’t really find it challenging anymore. I think when you start working in a new workplace the initial learning that is involved is probably the most challenging aspect of the job. You need to learn everything about your customers’ daily living requirements and preferences while also getting to know your colleagues. Then when you think you’ve learnt everything you need to know, something changes. You must get used to constant change every day. That’s the thing about disability support, the work is always changing and the people you support change too – just like we do.
Open yourself up. Never think you know the job. There should never be a day that passes where you don’t learn something new. I think the day you stop learning is the day where you should go and find another career. Be open, be yourself, and put your heart into it.
From my own personal experience, know the people I support can feel the care I provide. I have worked with a lot of people with disabilities who have touched my heart in so many different ways. Your customers have to be able to trust you and know that you’re there to listen.
A lot. I think you forget about the individual moments but rather carry those times with you. I’ve been in many situations over the years where I’ve saved people’s lives since working in disability support. These are people I’ve worked with for a number of years, and I think it made that relationship and repour I had with them a lot stronger.
There was a day when I went into work and I was upset – I had an argument with my daughter of all things and as much as I left it at the front door, I was quite sad when I arrived at work. That was until one of my customers, sang to me until about 1:30 in the afternoon and suddenly, I was okay. I looked at him and said, “Mark, thank you. You’ve made Janelle very happy”. And strangely, I felt good. I went home and saw my daughter that afternoon with a totally different attitude and it was because Mark touched my heart.
I joined Edmen at a time when I didn’t think I was good enough. And I think when I started working with Edmen, I really shone. There has been once or twice where I’ve called my service coordinator upset about something that’s happened during a shift. Edmen have been there to listen and forwarded me on to the Employee Assistance Program (EAPs) which gives staff access to free consults with mental health professionals. I always know I can ring Edmen at any time to talk about my issues or concerns - they work alongside you. There have been times where I’ve had to cancel shifts due to illness, and I’ve never had a bad attitude about that from anyone at Edmen. To be honest, I can’t fault them.