As a group home worker at the 96A St. residence for the past fourteen years, Louise Gould has come to appreciate the clients she works with in a new and unexpected way. She describes them as “old friends” as well as clients. Louise has empathy for many of the issues the clients face; in particular the health and age related concerns, because she is close in age to some of the clients she works with.
Louise acknowledges that closeness with clients can pose some difficulties in terms of staff/client relationships. Feelings and emotions as friends can complicate situations. When behaviours occur for no apparent reason, “it’s hard not to wonder if it’s something that you did that triggered the change.”
Clients are well aware of the guidelines that must be followed when behaviours occur and the resulting consequences of their choices. Often, the follow-up procedures can change the course of a whole day’s activities until the problems are sorted out. Both staff and clients wonder, “Why do we have to go through this?”
Clients who have a mental disability as well as a physical handicap are dealing with a very tough combination. As a staff member, it’s tough to realize that you cannot help clients in some situations, such as failing health. Louise sees that clients in the home are very aware of serious problems their housemates may be dealing with. They are affected directly and have many different ways of coping with the stress.
Louise is devoted to her work and she values the close relationships she enjoys with the clients in her care.