Remember Terry and Rita who we have already met. When we consider their age, their occupations throughout life, how they manage their spending habits, their style of communication with each other, it can be easy to project our own values and beliefs. Let’s consider how our language can be seen as igniting the tension. Our role is to consider how we can create a calm environment ongoing for all our clients and their families. If we allow our own beliefs to be projected on to the people we work with, our relationship and rapport with them will be impacted and compromised. It is our role to be working under the principles of best practise in duty of care. When we walk into the workplace our own values and beliefs, as much as we would like them to align with who we are working, with won’t necessarily match 100% of the time. How we manage this is what makes us professionals. We need to be always mindful that the language we use and the words we choose are either going to empower our families or they’re going to disempower them. Flair & Fine always work to strengthen all relationships.
We can sit by and do nothing to support Terry and Rita, and just go in and do our job, however at Flair & Fine we know this is not how we do things.
By always referring to the July 22 Version of the Flair & Fine Policies and Procedures we can make sure that we are continuing to implement best practice. It is not possible to be an expert at everything, although many of our families believe that support workers are magicians and can multitask and have diverse skills, we know this isn’t the case. Always refer to your shift supervisor when something does not seem right. How we can refer to our shift supervisor can happen in many ways. We can use our shift notes to document our day-to-day concerns, we can use an email to follow up to make sure that Huma is aware of what is going on and this allows her to take any necessary action or provide advice and support.
Another way of following up is to ensure that Terry and Rita both continue to attend their external service provider appointments. This allows external services to help monitor and maintain their ongoing support needs. This is your scope and role.
As you are taking Terry to an appointment, he mentions that he has not been as responsible with his eating as he should be and he is having trouble managing his diabetes. Terry asks if you can help him by preparing some meals to leave in the fridge for when he doesn’t have the energy to create them. You tell Terry this is no issue and you’ll head to the supermarket to collect the shopping while he’s at his appointment. Together you’re making a shopping list. Terry has asked for you to make him curried sausages, crumb lamb chops and a corn beef that he can then use in sandwiches. You leave Terry at his appointment and go do the shopping
As you’re vegetarian you make the decision to buy Quorn sausages, you rationalise to yourself that a sausage is a sausage, it doesn’t matter what is in it. Next you got to find the crumb lamb chops and find there’s a brand that actually have a vegan equivalent, you pop this in the trolley, collecting vegetables to make a vegetable melody to go with it. Then comes the corn beef. Corn beef was a bit tricky because there didn’t seem to be an equivalent item at the supermarket, but that’s OK because you know that you can make a similar one using impossible mince.
You finished shopping and returned to collect Terry. Terry is exhausted after his appointment and when you return home he goes and has a rest. You still have an hour before your shift is finished so you prepare the meals, thinking that Terry will be very pleased that they are done. You have finish work and arrive home when you receive a phone call from a very irate Terry, asking what is it that you have done to the food. Terry explains very emotionally he does not like any of the food that’s been prepared because none of it feels or tastes like meat. Terry’s upset that the grocery funds have been used for food that he finds inedible, and he is more upset that Rita is cross that he’s allowed this to happen.
What do you do next?
What should you have done?
The NDIS has the expectation that the participants choice and control will determine every action and inaction that we do. As a support worker, if your belief is that we should not be eating meat, unfortunately we cannot share this with the people we support. If we are asked to collect some shopping and prepare food for our participants and families, if that is in the scope of our work, we need to be mindful that we need to do it in a way that their expectation will be met. For Terry to show vulnerability, to reach out and ask for support, he was relying on his support worker to understand what he was needing. Before we make any lifestyle choices such as whether we include meat or not, we need to have that conversation with the people we are doing the preparing for. The NDIS principal guideline of choice and control determines that it is not our decision to make. When we are faced with a decision that goes against our beliefs, such as this one, we either prepare the food as requested or we need to be honest and say this is not something I can prepare, however I will be able to make……. This puts the choice and control back to Terry. Given this option he may make the same choices, or he may make other selections. Regardless of which way he chooses, it must always be his choice. (Remember how choice and control can have a significant impact on our positive mental health)
Overall, it seems like a very minor thing to have a choice over, however, we all know that food is the reason we live. Food is life.