Jane lives in an SDA (Shared Supported Accommodation). Jane enjoys the freedom and choice of her own support workers. Jane has the support of the Flair & Fine Care team. Jane has really felt at home with the team and her life has been a consistent dream. Jane needs the people supporting her to be cognizant for her need for consistency and calm in all areas of her life to remain emotionally regulated and stable. Following the arrival of a new housemate there has been some miscommunications between the different support workers.
Jane’s new housemate is Hailey. Hailey does not communicate with Jane due to language and communication barriers. Jane needs the home to be tidy and organised for positive executive functioning. Jane lives with ADHD and knows that if she lets the chores slide for a day or so it gets overwhelming for her, and she cannot think properly.
Hailey also has ADHD, however her executive functioning does not seem to be impacted by mess and clutter, in fact she thrives in it.
Jane keeps minimal objects around the home as she likes clear, open spaces. Jane finds dust makes her sneeze. Hailey loves to collect little “trinkets” from places she visits. She has spread approximately 50 little dust collector trinkets throughout their shared areas, the kitchen, shared lounge, and dining area. They have a shared responsibility for all the housekeeping chores. Both Jane and Hailey need the support workers to assist with their shared responsibilities. They have NDIS provided support workers for 40 hours a week. Jane has 20 hours allocated specifically to her independent living in her home and Hailey has 20 for this purpose also. This support is essential for them to remain living as independently as possible, while living where they choose. For most of the people we support we are funded under Improved Daily Living. This category is used to develop, maintain, or increase skill development. Prior to the housemate moving
in there was a “house care team” meeting that discussed all the different responsibilities of the housemates and their support. Jane and Hailey agreed on how the housework would be shared and what the expectation was for the level of house cleanliness. An agreement was written up and both signed it, along with their supports. It was agreed that there would be a monthly meeting with the care team and a weekly meeting for Jane and Hailey where they would discuss things like the shopping list. When asked if they wanted to make it a scheduled time and day Hailey indicated she disliked that much structure and was happy to make a day but the time they could work out.
In the shift notes, it was documented that attempts to meet weekly had been met with avoidance. Hailey and Jane have agreed to do separate shopping as they have different dietary requirements and eat at different times of the day.
You arrive for your scheduled shift following a 2-week holiday. You are looking forward to catching up with Jane as her new roommate was scheduled to arrive just after you left on leave.
When you arrive, you can feel the tension between Jane and her housemate. Jane is in the kitchen when you arrive and is clearly distressed. You can see dishes in the sink and on the stove top. This is not a normal event. Jane waits for her supports to arrive before preparing and having her breakfast. Jane is attempting to do the dishes. When you ask Jane whether she had eaten breakfast already, she responds “no- this is not my mess. I cannot make my food while there is a mess. I need the area to be clean before I can think about anything else”.
Jane tells you she feels really cross that her housemate has used her support workers hours away from the house. Hailey has made no attempt to help with the housework and for Jane, she feels that she is just making more mess on purpose.
Jane explains that she only agreed to Hailey having the “trinkets” around the house because it was agreed that the home would be kept reasonably tidy and dust free. Jane explains that for the last 2 weeks she feels it is just her and her supports that are keeping the house tidy. Jane asks for help. Jane cannot say what sort of help she needs.
What do you do?
Call shift supervisor Huma
Get into clearing what is causing the immediate distress for Jane, allowing her to find her emotional calm
Address the situation with the other support workers, telling Jane this is not our problem, it is the housemates
Support Jane to address the situation with the housemate
Would you do something different?
If you take option A
Please make this your last shift and go stack shelves somewhere.
If you take option B
calling Huma with Jane is empowering but is for when we have already assisted Jane to address this with Hailey. Our role is to work with the team of support workers to address this and other like situations before they become an issue. The shift notes are meant to reflect any of the internal and external support needs. Before we call Huma, we should have read the shift notes – ideally there would have been a hand over prior to retuning and you would have been informed that the Flair & Fine workers had noticed a significant psychosocial change in Jane. Jane is increasingly not sleeping well, and she appeared to be more frustrated within herself and unable to self-calm. When something agitates her, Jane is showing signs of distress quicker than she used to. There were four occasions over the last 2 weeks where it was clear the house was not being cleaned in a way that Jane was comfortable with. This is the third time Jane’s Support workers have arrived to find her cleaning up a mess in the kitchen before she can make her breakfast. Jane’s behaviour is demonstrating her increasing anxiety. Jane has not expressed to anyone that she wants help before now. It may be too late to address the situation directly with the housemate. Tread carefully as we do not want to create an environment that becomes hostile. Remember, we get to leave and go home- Jane lives here.
If you take option C
Get into clearing what is causing the immediate distress for Jane, allowing her to find her emotional calm. While you are taking charge of cleaning the environment with Jane, be mindful not to take over completely. We know that by taking over we are increasing the feeling of learned helplessness. We want to empower Jane while at the same time helping her recognize how to self-regulate her emotions. Talk with Jane about how we can help support her with this going forwards. It is not good for Jane to continue to “manage” this on her own. Remind her our role is there to support in all areas and we take her direction. We are to empower and support. Discuss the different options and how they can be implemented.
If you take option D
Address the situation with the other support workers, telling Jane this is not our problem it is the housemates.
Support workers need to ensure we work together. We are a team. We need to ensure we all empower our clients. This means ensuring we empower all clients to be respectful and that everyone meet their obligations. In this instance support workers need to ensure they know the scope of their time and how they need to use the time. If there is an allocated time to address particular support needs – this needs to be addressed first. Our clients rely on us to be role models for them. It is probably not advisable to address this now with the other support workers.
If you take option E
support Jane to address the situation with the housemate.
As support workers, this is our role in the first instance. If we can help Jane and Hailey have a calm conversation (when Jane has calmed enough to be able to communicate her needs and also listen to Hailey). This is vital for a successful resolution. We need to ensure that all the actions we take cause no harm. We aim to improve people’s living, in real-time. How we improve lives can differ every day. Right now, Jane needs our help immediately to help her find some of her normal. Normal means cleaning. Jane is conscious of the fact her support hours for cleaning have been exhausted for the week and this was meant to be a community access shift. However, we know Jane cannot proceed to shower and organize herself to access the supports as desired if she has not been able to prepare breakfast in a clean environment. This we know from past experiences.
If you take option F
would you do something different?
Tell us what you would do.