How do we help our clients experience activities when they may seem hesitant? We know that we should allow for the dignity of risk in allowing choice and control of how one chooses to live their lives and how they choose to do so. The role of the support worker is to find creative, stimulating and challenging community and home experiences to continue to build positive mental health. Working within the NDIS framework we feel measurable by the experiences made available and accessed.
But … what do we do when we arrive at Joe’s house, and he is refusing to come to join you for the day of fishing that is planned. You arrive excited. The fishing rods are ready, you know where to get the bait and last you spoke to Joe, he was happy and wanted to go. You both have been planning this for weeks. The day arrives. The weather is perfect. On arrival, Joe refuses to leave the house with you. Initially, you are stunned and don’t understand what has happened. It takes some work, but you agree with Joe that yes you are going fishing. Before he agrees to go anywhere or do anything Joe wants to know what time you will be back. You agree on a time and head out. This conversation takes up 30 mins and lots of quick thinking on our behalf.
On the drive to the fishing spot- Joe confides that he dearly loves the solitude and peace of fishing, however every time a support person has taken Joe fishing in the past they have only stayed a short period of time, often less than an hour. Joe explained he would rather not go as he needs time, at least 3 hours minimum to enjoy all the good feelings. Joe explained he can focus on fishing for many hours, and this gives him the peace he craves. What is unique about Joe is that he actually can articulate what his needs are. He can tell us where he wants to go. How he likes to get there. Joe can tell us how long he needs as a minimum to get a benefit from the experience, and he can tell us whom he would like to join him. That Joe can tell us what his needs make him different to many of our clients.
We all want to help our clients, family and friends to have the most amazing experiences. How can we do this and how can we make it so that they want this experience again? Why is it that once we get started on something we enjoy it is problematic if someone tries to interrupt us?
Why can it be so hard to transition to other experiences and activities even when it is something I really want to do?
There are so many reasons why someone may find it difficult to change from what they are doing to what they need to do next. Regardless of why someone is unwilling to alter what they are doing for the purpose of another experience we need to be cognisant of the 5 W’s.
The 5 W’s are:
Why do we need to stop what we are doing? If possible, can they safely continue what they are doing, time is relative, so they say?
WHERE/WHAT is it that we need to be doing next? Unless there is a safety reason, we need to show flexibility and understanding.
WHAT will be the consequence if these are time delayed? If there is a financial or physical health concern in undertaking something or not, then where possible flexibility needs to be shown in the scheduling to allow for continued choice and control.
What is a workaround if we can not do this now without becoming emotionally dysregulated?
WHO is responsible for the timekeeping?
As support workers, our role is to provide choice and control. We can not make anyone do anything they do not wish to do. We are responsible for providing opportunities that are appropriate, safe and stimulating. Providing opportunity in a collaborative space requires open communication with not just our clients, but the significant people in their life that support them with their decision-making. The opportunity to discuss unique individual needs and how these will be met. How one person loves to spend their time, another may find tiresome. Such as fishing, this activity is not for everyone. It is important to allow individual choice. In accessing choice and control in our lives we fill our dopamine buckets of happiness that assist our resilience when life can get challenging. Our goal as positive and effective support workers is to assist our clients to fill their dopamine buckets within themselves at every opportunity. By doing this we allow for positive memories to be created to draw on when needed. As always, follow the policies and procedures of Flair & Fine Care while you continue to think outside the box, and this is how we shine with those we support.