in and out and in and out

Your favourite support worker over the past few years has just resigned. I’m sorry, Em. You rang me when you found out. You said: it’s ok, I’m used to it. And my heart hurt.

Not many of us would be happy having to invite someone into our lives and our homes. You welcome these people into your home, your life, your world, your family. To some of them, it’s a job. But we have been lucky and most have loved you just as much as you have loved them. Still, they have their own lives and just like that, they can sign out of yours.

No one else is there when they are with you and M. I can’t help but wonder, do they ever turn up late? Do they ever look at the clock and sneak out half an hour earlier than the roster suggests?

A long time ago I worked at a house where all the residents were Deaf as well as having mild intellectual disabilities. When I was being shown the ropes the support worker teaching me would stop signing and speak to me verbally in front of people when she wanted to say something about them (and what she had to say was not good, like: put them to bed at 8pm so you can have some time to yourself). I was appalled and signed back when I responded. She said: oh they can’t understand you anyway. Once I got to know the people I was supporting I discovered this was absolutely not true. The first night shift I had was a Friday. We stayed up late playing board games and I encouraged each individual to decide when they wanted to go to bed. Most of the workers at that house were fantastic. A few were not. As has been my experience everywhere I have worked in the disability sector.

So I do tend to be sceptical when it comes to people’s motivations.

Has anyone tried to brush you aside, making the assumption that you don’t understand or can’t make your own decisions? Sadly the answer is probably, but we might not ever find out for sure.

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