Ever since I got my new job everyone has been asking if I like it or not and I realized that I haven’t shared much about it. Some of that has to do with fear, fear of losing a job I like and some of that has to do with HIPPA and sharing just enough but not too much.
So let’s start with the fear. My last job was ridiculous, lots of pressure for no reason. Sure students taking tests are important but not that important. This job is really important. I’m advocating for people that need help advocating for themselves, I’m part of the checks and balances system that makes sure that they are being treated like people and that they are safe, have comfort, are healthy and have some security. My job is important and I really like doing it and I don’t want to lose it. I’m still in that 90 day period which was when I got fired from my old job. The first 30 days of this job I was on edge, because I made myself that way. No one else did that. I did it to myself. My boss is very nice and she keeps reassuring me at every turn. I’ve settled a little bit because I’m learning the ropes and things are making sense and my case load is starting to grow. Plus my co-workers allow for an atmosphere that allows you to ask questions and to learn more and more as you go. I love that.
HIPPA is a system of importance but it makes sharing things about my job kind of ridiculous but I can give you some generalities without any specifics :). Most of the time I work in an office with right now 13 on my case load with an eventuality of possibly 30. I make sure that all the paperwork is done for Medicaid, Medicare, and DMH (Department of Mental Health). I also check on my people and go and visit them throughout the year. The frequency of my visits depends on each individual’s personal plan. I visit them in their home, at their work, or at an activity center. I visit with them to make sure that they: are safe, are comfortable, have security (has more to do with money than with safety) and that their health needs are being met.
The people on my caseload are awesome. And they are PEOPLE! They are not their disability. How we talk about people matters.
My office is actually in the same building as the Sheltered Workshop which gives jobs to individuals that can work and choose to do that in an atmosphere that is built for them. Some work in the job prep section that teaches them how to do the job. Some work on finish work like making tables for those in the workshop or making things to be sold in craft shows. Some work in the section that does all the recycling. They work hard and they make a wage. The finishing area is where the ice machine is located so I see the individuals that work in there more often than those that work out in the recycling center. I talk with them every day and they tell me about what they are working on with such pride. It’s awesome and they look forward to seeing me everyday. It really is nice.
I like my job. I understand it’s importance. I have a 2nd cousin named Brianna who has Sturge-Weber. She had a Hemispherectomy a few years ago and it really helped her because she was able to learn where previously that was not a possibility and it stopped her seizures. I love her. She loves to do all the fun things: watch Disney movies, color, and play with animals and kids. She’s fun. She’s 18 or so (sorry I can’t remember) but functions more like a 12 year old. In the days of the Habilitation Centers she would have been dropped off at the front gate of a large facility and never picked up again.
There is a Habilitation Center in the town of Marshall, where I work, and it saddens me. Luckily it is no longer used as a habilitation center and it is slowly closing it’s doors. It has a long history that saddens me, people simply didn’t know what to do with people with disabilities but that is not how we treat people and they are learning that there are better ways to treat individuals.
I’m really glad that the life of the Habilitation Center is not the life for Brianna and I’m really glad that I look out for people and make sure that it is never again. I love that individuals are given every freedom that they can possibly have. Some live on their own in apartments, or in their own homes. Some live with other people in group homes, like having house mates. And some simply cannot live on their own and need full time care and provided that in the least restrictive environment as possible. We work to do the best for each individual and we do what is best for them based on their needs.
I really like my job and I’m hoping to do a good job and keep it. So far, so good. This week we are hosting a Winter Ball and it should be a lot of fun.
Here is a photo of the old Habilitation Center (remember these people were just housed and were not allowed to do really anything, they lived and died on this land).
Here’s a link to an old article that explains the closing down of Habilitation Centers: article
So that’s my job. I don’t provide services but I make sure that people are receiving the services that they need so that they can live a full quality life.