Kate has been a support worker in a community group home for 9 years where she cares for four residents in the comfort of their own home. She works 11 hour shifts, only four of those hours have another staff on hand, the other seven hours she spends working alone.
When asked what Kate does, the shortest answer is what doesn’t she do? Her role goes well beyond providing personal care, cooking, and cleaning to also providing record keeping, medication administering, nursing, reporting, chauffeuring, teaching, house maintenance and entertaining.
One day, Kate saved someone’s life as they were choking. She didn’t go into work expecting to have that experience but she’s grateful for the opportunity to make that kind of a difference to someone and their family. When she’s not saving lives, she helps with what she calls motivated listening. By reading underneath what is being said or the behaviors she observes, she digs deeper to try to figure out what her residents are really trying to say so that she can help them in the way that they want to be helped.
She was inspired to care for people with disabilities by her brother, who is autistic. She looked at what kind of life he was fortunate enough to have and knew that not everyone had the opportunity to live independently so she wanted to help people live as they wanted to live. What is interesting about this career path that Kate has found is that her husband saw the job and applied for it, on her behalf, because he knew this was something she would love. Until that moment, she was unaware of this as a career option.
COVID has affected their workplace because suddenly, residents did not go out to work or day programs. They have provided added in-home entertainment and are putting in the work of two people. They also try really hard to stay upbeat about COVID because they need to keep their residents positive and hopeful.
Her wish is that the wealth of experience of senior staff could be taken seriously. When they say they need supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE) or added staff resources, they need to be heard. She wishes stable funding was in place to take care of these cherished residents in a way they deserve; funding is always available for roadways and new buildings. This job matters. They make such a difference to those living with special needs.
Thank you Kate and all Support Workers for everything that you do to increase the quality of life for so many people in this province!