Margo Chambers joined the Association in the mid 1980s. As a residential worker, she must coordinate with many people in a day’s work, not just those who are handicapped. She encounters “quite a variety of characters.” It is one of the most challenging parts of the work and Margo says a good sense of humour is a great asset in her field.
Margo also notes that residential workers must be willing to see situations in many different ways. Personal standards and morals must be tempered by the opinions of others. At times, the clients make decisions that you do not believe in. You have to be aware of the difference in perspective, but also have to let them make their own choices and learn from their own mistakes.
But to leave your own upbringing and morals, you have to pretty much leave it because everybody has their own set.
Families sometimes have a very difficult time with accepting moral decisions that their children make. Margo finds that, in some cases, the families would prefer that staff act like parents and make decisions for the clients, but that is not their job.
When Margo began with the Association, clients were on a program for every activity, no matter how basic. Now, with Personal Planning in place, the direction for the planning comes from the individual. The programs are meaningful. Clients are given the information and tools they need to have healthy relationships. Margo says that the discussions are comfortable because the interaction is with adults as opposed to teenagers.
Moving to the supervisor position was not a drastic change for Margo as far as dealing with the clients is concerned. The only real difference she notes is that “There are certain things that are my responsibility and not anybody else’s responsibility.” She still does the one on one work with clients in the group home. Discontinuing some of her old duties was more difficult for her than taking on the new duties.
Good experiences with clients keep her in the job and Margo can’t imagine working in any other field.