Vulnerabilities of Caregivers – John J. McGee

“Although our vulnerabilities and the external threats to our wellbeing are in many ways nothing compared to those of the persons whom we serve, it is important that we recognize our own before dealing further with the vulnerabilities of those whom we serve.

We are all vulnerable to breakdowns in our personal values. Sometimes these can be due to how we feel and what we are experiencing within ourselves; at other times we can be part of a system that makes it harder for us to respond to our shared values. If a caregiver is afraid of being hurt, he/she then becomes more likely to use restraint to control violent behaviors. Or, if a caregiver is depressed, then it is extremely hard to bring joy to others. If we are being beaten and de-valued at home, it is hard to bring non-violence into someone else’s home.

John J. McGee’s “Mending Broken Hearts” CPLS Newsletter

Many of our vulnerabilities are worsened by lack of adequate training and hands-on supervision. Some caregivers are quite isolated and seldom have the opportunity to discuss their problems and search for new responses to challenging situations. It is critical that caregivers recognize their weaknesses and find ways to overcome them. Community leaders need to listen to caregivers and find ways to offer support and encouragement.

Caregivers need to find their own self-worth from themselves, talking frequently, sharing their anxieties, and pointing out their goodness. Our own worth has to be generated from within ourselves. We need to form strong communities.

The question of burnout seems to be always present. Some caregivers give up and attribute their burnout to poor supervision, working in violent settings, receiving little guidance, or low pay. Since we are not only teaching feelings of companionship, but also a sense of community, it is important for caregivers to look at themselves, question their reality, and search for ways for themselves to feel safer, more engaged, and more valued. The first step in this is to step back and examine those things that make us vulnerable.

Let us take a moment to reflect on these aspects of our lives — recognizing these will help us understand better the needs of those whom we serve.”

 

~Excerpt from John J. McGee’s “Mending Broken Hearts” — CPLS Newsletter.

 

I love the leader that COR and gentle teaching has enabled me to become!

Gentle Teaching has become a main part of my life. During my university career, I have done many presentations and projects based on gentle teaching because it applies to so many different areas of study; whether it be Psychology or Kinesiology and Health Studies. As Assistant Home Team Leader, I dedicated most of my support times (and outside support times) to making sure the people I support are physically healthy. I continue to do activities to keep the guys active and engaged, but allow them to decide which activities are right for them! I pre-cook and freeze meals so that it is easily accessible for the rest of the team. This is done so that supports aren’t tempted to buy unhealthy food! Since this started, I have continued to encourage others on the team to do the same as well. As a result, the team has all begun to contribute to grocery shopping and cooking wholesome meals. This was not so they could be “fit” or “skinny”, but to better compliment one’s overall quality of life. I am a strong believer in how physical health affects one’s mental health, thus my pursuit of a masters degree in sport and exercise psychology.

what I learned at COR

Although I recently stepped down as Assistant Home Team Leader, I have continued to keep many of the same responsibilities. The title of ATL was not my motivation to be a leader! I will continue to be passionate about caring for the people I support, as that is the foundation of Gentle Teaching. Their companionship and presence in my life is enough to want to help with the quality of it. COR has shown me that I am capable of my own academic accomplishments. Sport and Exercise Psychology is not popular in Canada just yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to follow my interests and turn them into my passion. Even though I have stepped down from my ATL role, supports still contact me when certain issues arise; they still want to hear my advice and experience. I love this! For the first time, I feel like I am a mentor. I like knowing it is not my leadership status that motivates them to ask me for help. I feel as though they ask because they know I am effective at solving problems while still keeping one’s emotions in mind. It has become a very empowering experience. I love the leader that COR and Gentle Teaching has enabled me to become!

 

Kyla, COR Support

Gentle Teaching has become a main part of my life

Being WITH one another is one of the main lessons I have grown to appreciate since being introduced to Gentle Teaching.

Often when I have the chance to catch up with somebody I have not seen for a while, the question always seems to pop up: “So, where are you working these days?”. This is a funny question for me to answer because when you truly find something that you are passionate about and enjoy doing on a daily basis, it’s no longer considered work – this is how Gentle Teaching has transformed me as a person. After graduating high school, I soon found myself at a job that did not offer any growth for myself as an individual. A cooking job that provided forty hours a week, but had me asking myself if this is really how I want to spend the next however many years of my life, at a job where I simply show up for a nine to five shift, then go home. I can imagine that I was among millions of people who couldn’t wait to be done work to get home and relax, dreading the thought of having to go back the next day. I needed a change, especially knowing that I had much more inside of me than that. COR was an option that I had considered applying for, but was ambiguous about at first. It’s the type of organization that was very unfamiliar to me solely because I was one of many who had the common attitude that people with a disability may be seen as troublesome and based my perception on the idea of their “behaviour”. I took a blind leap into Gentle Teaching and soon realized that a critical part of this culture of gentleness is shedding these beliefs and valuing people for who they are. Now, two years later, I have found myself buried so deep in the lives of the individuals I serve that the thought of not seeing them throughout the week is unnerving.

With COR, I now find myself getting lost in the moment with these individuals that I can honestly call my friends, forgetting about time all-together. From being part of a fast paced, aggressive work environment in the past, to now being a part of a community that practices Gentle Teaching in every aspect in life is truly a blessing. Gentle Teaching has helped me focus on building a sense of companionship and community with those that I serve and that there is no nine to five shift when it comes to being involved in others lives. The relationships you create and maintain with others directly revolves around the time you invest with them, being WITH one another is one of the main lessons I have grown to appreciate since being introduced to Gentle Teaching. This philosophy is truly something special, something you can’t just turn on or off when it fits. I believe it’s the unconditional compassion for others in which we all have inside of us.

 

Sawyer, COR Support

 

Finding the perfect job is hard!

Jessie loves sport! Being active is a giant part of his makeup (blueprint) so a job at the University of Regina in the athletic department was an obvious and easy transition for him. After more than a decade of employment at a local grocery store, Jessie knew it was time for a change. Jessie’s friendly and conversational nature now thrives on the busy and bustling Regina Campus. “I get to meet a lot of people and chat them up all the time! Sometimes [my friends] come by and say hi which is pretty cool too.”

Jessie’s extremely conversational personality mixed with his natural ability to make people smile makes him the perfect candidate for a role in customer experience. On finding a job that fits his talents, Jessie also stated that, “If I am not checking people in to the gym, my boss lets me clean the equipment and chat with people around the gym. I have a good boss.” Consumers in health services have so many options nowadays with gyms popping up on every corner. Jessie has found a way to make that experience different at the U of R.

I have a good boss

In addition to being able to use his natural abilities every day in his role at the gym, Jessie is able to feed his need for sport after hours as well. Once Jessie punches the clock at the end of his day he is able to make use of the facility. When asked about the perks of his role, Jessie’s eyes lit up to say, ‘I have my own student card and can play ball or sit courtside to watch the Cougars play as long as I am not on the job.” Jessie went on to say with a grin, “sometimes I get tempted to shoot a couple hoops when I’m on break, but I know it looks bad on the resume!”

Finally when asked what he does with his hard earned paycheck he replied, “I save it. I don’t spend a lot. I guess I do want a DeRozan Jersey to wear while I am shooting hoops, but that’s it.” Not only is he an athlete and social butterfly, but he is responsible too!

Finding the perfect job is hard. Feeding the soul and the bank account is often something that we have to do separately; making time in our lives for both. Jessie has managed to find a role with the University that not only takes care of both of these life necessities, but nourishes them as well.

Great work Jessie!

 

To learn more about Inclusive Employment, visit: www.4to40.ca.

 

Ben Morris,

Community Education and Outreach

 

“Gentle Teaching has pushed me to be the best support and friend possible”

I believe I am naturally a very gentle, loving and empathetic person, which made Gentle Teaching an easy concept and philosophy for me to grasp. I remember looking at the COR website before applying and thinking that being employed with this organization would be so rewarding, as I would just have to follow and build off of my values. With additional trainings on the philosophy of Gentle Teaching, I’ve been able to maintain a culture of gentleness within the team of individuals I support by valuing them for who they are and consistently showing them my love and gratitude for our friendships.

I believe that I am able to maintain a culture of gentleness

Gentle Teaching has certainly pushed me to be the best support and friend possible. The moments in which the Gentle Teaching philosophy and its effect on my growth as a support and individual become most notable to me, are in the moments of conflict. Of course it is easy to be calm and loving when things are going well, but the real test of self lies in times of challenge. I believe that I am able to maintain a culture of gentleness within times of adversity by continuing to offer positive regard, unconditional love, and acceptance. I challenge myself to always make sure that my words, presence, hands, and gaze, display a sense of love and compassion, with an honest desire to help.

I look forward to continuing and building off of the friendships I’ve made at COR for the rest of my life. When supporting, I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to be in the presence of such wonderful individuals. This only enhances my aspirations of becoming a Gentle Teaching advocate within my support role, as well as within the health region.

 

Marie-Claire, COR Support

 

“Gentle Teaching has taught me that devotion is one of the best tools for teaching.”

Gentle Teaching is not only valuable to apply with individuals that one supports, but is a wonderful approach for all relationships . It has transformed how I view others in my daily life. Gentle Teaching allows me to think more optimistically towards everyone. It has made me more positive by allowing me to see through people’s flaws and see their past experiences that bring out colourful emotions in high stress situations.

Gentle Teaching has taught me to reflect on how life experience affect how people see themselves and in turn how they act. Poor experiences can affect the way individuals value themselves, develop relationships and deal with conflict. Maintaining this mindset outside of supporting has enhanced the way I interact with others and improved my ability to accept others for who they are. In order to understand a person, one needs to know where they came from. In order to do that, listening and interpreting words is essential for that understanding.

Gentle teaching has taught me that devotion is one of the best tools for teaching

Gentle teaching has taught me that devotion is one of the best tools for teaching. Being devoted to a person is to actively show them that you are a part of their journey and are there to help. Whether it be with my girlfriend, family, my nieces and nephews, my friends or even my dog showing genuine friendliness and enthusiastic support in good moments has a stronger impact than punishing or dwelling on downbeat moments. Letting go of negatively charged moments and using them as teaching moments and celebrating little victories shows a person that you are devoted to their growth and you can grow healthily together. Devotion allows for trust and relationships to grow.

Active listening skills can be improved constantly throughout a person’s life. Working on them continually has improved my communication. Active listening requires not simply hearing what someone says, but hearing their message, the emotion evoked and also paying attention to what is not being said. It has taught me that when people are upset there is at times a deeper issue troubling them. Past trauma speaks through people in times of stress and unresolved negative experiences can often cause people to live in clouds of pain.

Gentle Teaching has caused me to reflect on my own past and consider how I may hold pain from experiences. Recognizing how trauma has affected myself allows me to let go and move on to become a better version of myself. Self reflection has allowed me to think rather than react to situations. Being self aware is key for anyone to grow and live a healthy life and it is constant. Self care and mental health are essential for healthy bodies. Being honest with myself about trauma has allowed me to become a person that is ready to reach out and support others around me. Being comfortable with oneself is very important before someone loans them self to others for support.

 

Jacob, COR Support

 

A culture of gentleness for me has come naturally by genuinely caring for the three gentlemen I serve.

A culture of gentleness for me has come naturally by genuinely caring for the three gentlemen I serve. Since I started at COR almost one year ago I have created relationships with the three guys I serve that without a doubt will last a lifetime. Being able to care for someone on a daily basis and watch them grow as people has been one of the most professionally satisfying accomplishments to date. Watching the look on the guys faces while they do things they love can turn even the worst of days around in a heart beat.

i-strongly-believe-the-culture-of-gentleness-is-created-by-those-who-we-serve

I would have to say I more so reciprocate a culture of gentleness however. To say I create a culture of gentleness would minimize the amount of caring that these individuals show us who come in to serve them. The three guys I support have some of the biggest hearts I have ever met. They will share what ever it is they have with out batting an eye. I strongly believe the culture of gentleness is created by those who we serve.

 

Danny, COR Support

 

Gentle Teaching really made me assess my own life

Gentle Teaching has transformed the person I am as well as the person I aspire to be in many ways. What started out as a “job” in the beginning, quickly became “spending time with the guys” and this was because of Gentle Teaching. I think essentially, Gentle Teaching allowed me to understand the importance of living in the moment and appreciating the little things in life. I started realizing quickly the opportunities for learning and life experiences that these guys I support had missed out on through their lives because people who were supposed to “care” for them, honestly did not care. Showing them first hand that they are just like everyone else and have the freedom to make their own choices was sometimes anxiety filled. In the end though, not only did they learn something, but I did as well – how much I took for granted in my own life.

gentle-teaching-has-allowed-me-to

Gentle Teaching really made me assess my own life to what I viewed as important and what others thought I viewed as important because these are very different categories. Gentle Teaching has allowed me to view situations from multiple perspectives which enhances my problem solving skills. I think someone cannot fully understand this culture of gentleness until they are fully immersed in it. In order to fully understand the culture of gentleness, it is important to allow yourself to be vulnerable not only with the individuals you support, but your support team as well. I’ve never had a job where I could discuss personal struggles with a coworker and come out feeling more equipped to support rather than being torn down and humiliated. I have truly been blessed with an amazing COR family and continue to grow and thrive because of them. Gentle Teaching quickly becomes a way of life and you begin to realize how often you use it outside of supporting. I look forward to using my experience with the culture of gentleness in my future endeavours of nursing and beyond.

Shelbi, COR Support

4to40 Interview with Patrick, SaskTel and RHSAA Employee — Celebrating Inclusive Employers!

Patrick Flaman is well versed in the working world and is a seasoned member of the Sasktel crew, rockin’ employment there for around two years now. His job provides him with security, friendship and that ever important paycheck; but Patrick was given an opportunity that was hard to refuse. Patrick got a second job. Now one might think: How is more work an opportunity that is hard to refuse?

getting-to-work-with-my-friend

Patrick was offered a job with RHSAA as a line judge and first down official; but most importantly, he was offered that opportunity to work alongside his best friend Rene. If working with your best friend isn’t enough, Patrick also gets to stay fit running up and down the sidelines, as well as out onto the field with his alma mater, the Campbell Tartans.

When asked about what his favorite thing at his new job was, Patrick got excited and exclaimed, ‘getting to work with my friend, and running out with my boys the Campbell Tartans! They love it when I come out with them and high five me as I leave the field.’

Being a guy who loves physical activity and is involved in any sport he can be a part of, this is a great opportunity! Patrick’s connectedness to ‘the boys’ and his comradery from that group of young athletes is special and can’t really be achieved in many lines of work. How many of you can say that you have torn out onto the grid-iron and ripped through a banner touting your colours and company name on any given Monday morning? What a rush!

In addition to Patrick’s dedication to his work, he is also extremely responsible with his extra cash. Finally, when asked what he planned on doing with his extra paycheck, Patrick said nonchalantly, ‘Probably add it to my RDSP’s. Save it. Save it for a day when I get hospitalized or need it for an emergency.’

Wow!

Employment can be all that and a bag of chips. You just have to find the right job!

Thanks Patrick!

To learn more about Inclusive Employment, visit: www.4to40.ca.

 

Ben Morris,

Community Education and Outreach

 

4to40 Interview with Austin, SARCAN Employee — Celebrating Inclusive Employers

Austin has been passionate about recycling for as long as he can remember. In his spare time he cleans up his neighborhood and is always looking for ways to help out the environment. If there is a will there is a way, and Austin’s will is what pushes him to research all the different ways to reduce waste and maintain a healthy planet! That is why a job in recycling could not be better suited for him!

At age 17, Austin has done what so many people fail to do in a lifetime. Find a job which they can care passionately about and make a solid living while doing it. His partnership and employment at Sarcan Recycling is his avenue for success, but Austin’s deep well of knowledge on the subject of recycling helps him in his everyday work.

Austin’s attention to detail helps him with sorting and knowing the exact right way to care for all recyclables. Have you ever noticed that every plastic vessel that you buy has a number attached to its recycling instructions? Austin knows! He also knows what that plastic is made of and where you properly dispose of that vessel.

When asked about his favorite part of his job, Austin simply said, “the fact that I am recycling. Well, and helping the environment.” Austin also took some time to elaborate on his perfect dream job to which he said, “If I could work anywhere I think it would be where I am working — at Sarcan. Or Crown Shred. That would be cool.”

In addition to being a great worker and citizen, Austin is humbly responsible. To be fair, at 17 one doesn’t have a lot of expenses, but he manages to save most of his paychecks every two weeks. “It’s nice to have money. Especially when I want to buy something big.” He does however splurge with twenty dollars every pay day to celebrate his hard work.

more-people-recycling-is-better-for-the-planet

Finally, when asked what his favorite part of being on a team is, Austin said, “that we are all recycling together and making a bigger difference. More people recycling is better for the planet.”

Austin’s experience in the workplace is still fresh and new, but faced with the temptations of the everyday, he manages to stay true to himself and his strict code. When we work together we can create the greatest change. Great work Austin! Thanks for keeping us all in check brother.

To learn more about Inclusive Employment, visit: www.4to40.ca.

 

Ben Morris,

Community Education and Outreach