Our chosen careers provide us with opportunity to learn, develop and grow as an individual. The path I chose was aged care. I have been teaching and working within the industry for the last thirteen years and go to work with a sense of connection to my community.
This week I was facilitating students at a local aged care facility. I was demonstrating a task when an elderly lady was wheeled in to the room behind me. I was discussing in great detail the importance of the task when the lady in the wheelchair spoke up and said “Listen to this lady, she knows her stuff and I taught her well.” I turned around to see a former client who I had worked with earlier on in my nursing career. Last time I had worked with her, she was in her own home in our local community. I was shocked. Shocked that she would remember me, shocked that she had come to the nursing home to live as a client and I had a chance to reconnect. I walked over and gave her a cuddle and said hello. I told her I would be back after I had finished with the students to catch up for a cup of tea.
When the moment came to meet and talk I asked her how she had remembered me so well, when we had not seen each other for a long time. She commented that during my time with her, I had brought her a sense of family. She had lost contact with her family and my visit to her gave her a chance to be part of something. She was grateful that I never showed judgement towards her inabilities but promoted her abilities and kept her smiling.
During the time when we were together many years ago, my client taught me how to play cards, ice wedding cakes and sneak vegetables into my cooking so my children wouldn’t know they were eating healthy food. At the time I felt I was just doing my job however appreciative for the hints and skills she had taught me. My client told me I had given her a sense of belonging and she loved being with the organisation I had worked for.
I finished that working day with a huge smile on my face, extra cuddles from a kind lady and a reconfirmed sense of purpose in my job role.
In reflection of this day and in context of the subject I am currently studying I thought about my actions as a support worker for the elderly and how my job role influenced the lives of my clients. A community worker spends a lot of time one:one with the client. You are required to work autonomously, make decisions in the best interest of your client, follow organisational procedures and ensure tasks are completed so that your client can live their lives as they choose. You come to understand that person on a physical and emotional level.
I have recently read Newman’s (2015) article “The Trouble with Thanksgiving Gratitude” from the Greater Good Magazine. This article talks of how when put on the spot for being grateful, sometimes people feel forced to come up with an answer. Newman gives suggestions on how to reflect on the act of being grateful. I have adapted suggestion number 2 “Mental Subtraction of Relationships” as I reflect on the working partnership I had with my client during my time working as support worker in community.
Step 1: Take a moment to think about the person.
Step 2: Think back to where and how you met this person.
Step 3: Think about all the possible events and decisions -large and small- that could have prevented you from meeting this person, or kept her from your life.
Step 4: Imagine what your life would be like now if events had unfolded differently and you had never met this person. Bring to mind some of the joys and benefits you have enjoyed as a result of this relationship – and consider how you would feel if you were denied all of them.
Step 5: Shift you focus to remind yourself that you did actually meet this person and reflect upon the benefits this relationship has brought to you. Allow yourself to feel grateful that things happened as they did and this person is now in your life.
I am grateful that I experienced another person’s life, their journey and the teachings they have given me. I am grateful that the present time has given me an opportunity to reconnect with someone from my past. Through her words and actions I have consciously reconfirmed the choice of I career I chose as the best one for me.
The opportunity for reconnection has brought me a sense of peace and inner bliss. Deepak Chopra states “Nothing is more important than reconnecting with your bliss. Nothing is as rich. Nothing is as real.”
Click here to read the article Trouble with Thanksgiving Gratitude