Recently, one of Paul’s crew members went and had another baby. Baby no. 3 and a girl nonetheless. Of course, Paul and I having 2 girls whom are now 8 and 10 were growing up fast, it was an opportunity to go a little…well…baby clothes shopping crazy. So I mustered up a couple of the equally-as-crazy-about-babies crew members and with Paul in tow, we went shopping for baby clothes as a gift from Paul and his crew on the birth of the next generation crew member. It did cross my mind that Paul was likely seething with fury as I picked up a floral outfit here and a soft white coat there, a dusty pink romper and a lemon printed dress. How can you resist? Ladies, am I right? However, for a fleeting moment, the manager in me said “Vicki, this is definitely boundary crossing.” Of course, I ignored that voice and continued racking up a hefty bill. After all, how can you put a price on a baby girl’s right to look fabulous?
But baby girl’s dad was part of Paul’s crew. He wasn’t just an ordinary support worker. There is a difference. When a support worker accepts the work for a client, they usually get enough information about the client’s health condition, behaviours, family life, quirks and a general run- down of the shift activities they can expect to participate in. The support worker already gets a glimpse into what their work life would be like before they have even met the client. The client gets a somewhat equivocal summary of the support worker and sometimes no summary at all. I’ve been told “Helena comes with years of experience.” Well, Helena, you better be so bloody extraordinary that the brilliance oozes from your pores. The Helena’s of the world often come in with their chest’s puffed ready to tell us how we could improve our current practices and work better if we did things their way. There was once a “Helena” who came on her first day to do training. I was told she was very experienced and had been in the industry for a long time. So, of course, I wanted to get to know her better- she would be in my home, around my husband and children for long periods of time. “How long have you worked in the health care industry?” I asked ever so politely- don’t want to get too personal too quickly. “I have a registration,” was the reply. Great. That’s not what I asked, but ‘good for you.’ I had the weirdest vibe from this Helena but I decided to override my intuition that was sending my gut into a tailspin. I’ll give this Helena a chance to prove me wrong. Needless to say, I should have listened to that inner voice because this Helena turned to be a dud. The feedback from crew members was that this Helena was never going to make it past the audition. If at the very basis you don’t gel with the client’s wife, you have buckly’s getting past the rest of the team (who are equally as judgey as me lol!)
The best crew members have some lasting qualities that can’t always be explained with words. Sometimes the right person sends out good vibes on their very first day. Empathy and compassion should bleed out from you like a wounded animal. I’m sure people have heard me say a thousand times, I don’t care if you have no experience because we can teach you what you need to know. But I can’t teach you how to have a good personality; be kind, outgoing, witty, fun, confident, passionate, sincere, trustworthy, spiritual, intelligent, respectful, optimistic, loyal, courageous and generous. Look, I know not everyone can possess all these qualities like I do, but some combinations are an advantage.
Crew members are held in high esteem in my eyes. It has taken a very long time to get used to having a revolving door of carers in our house- 2 carers 24/7, 3 changeover shifts a day, day in, day out. They see me at my worst and my best. They see every bad-hair day, screaming- at- my- kids- for- not- doing- their- homework day, tired- from- doing- nothing day, bawling- my- eyes- out- over- a- TV- show day, accidentally- swearing- in- front- of- the- kids day and my favourite, I- need- a- day- off- from- life day (this one is on regular rotation.) They see me at my worst and they are courteous enough to judge me in silence. So it’s not just about doing a good job with Paul, that goes without saying. It’s how they interact with our children. The perfect indicator is if Sofia tells you she doesn’t like you to your face, you know she thinks you’re awesome (the mentality of an 8 year old red head.) But if she avoids you, unable to be playful or funny around you, you will not make it to the semi finals.
Weeks ago I quietly watched one team member from afar as she patiently waited for Paul’s response to an instruction to move his fingers. As Paul’s thumb began to move- a movement we hadn’t seen him do for the longest time- I was so moved as her eyes welled up and she beamed with pride. My arms and legs were riddled with goose bumps, not only at the joy of seeing Paul move his thumb, then his fingers, but that I was able to share it with someone who never rushed him, talked him through every challenge no matter how small, was patient and motivating, firm but kind and reminded Paul what he was fighting for every step of the way.
Crew member for life.
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