What is a Direct Care Worker?
If you have read my “about me“ page you already know that I currently work as a direct care worker. What is a direct care worker you might ask? Well, a direct care worker is someone who works in a group home.
A group home houses people with special needs such as mental illness, physical illness, or the elderly. These people require extra assistance like help with medications, getting around, eating, showering, or other activities. A direct care worker’s job is to assist the clients with these activities.
This job is not for the faint of heart, as it requires messy jobs such as changing a client’s diaper. It also requires attention to detail and responsibility with jobs such as medication distribution.
Why I Love My Job
Working with people is amazing, I absolutely love it. My own experience with people extends from babysitting children, assisting in group therapy sessions, and being a direct care worker to customer service and secretarial work. Hands-down, being a direct care worker has been the most fulfilling.
The home I work in houses 6 people, all above the age of 50, who have a developmental disability. Most of the clients also experience a secondary mental illness and various physical illnesses. This means that they require assistance doing most daily activities and take a lot of medications.
I Enjoy Caring for Someone
Because of the level of maintenance these clients require, you are always helping someone to do something. Even in the middle of the night, they must be frequently checked on and often prompted to go to the bathroom.
I love having something to take care of (like pets or plants) and maybe this is why I love my job so much. But outside of how fulfilling it is to help someone live a semi-normal life, it is also immensely fulfilling to interact with them.
My favorite part of the midnight shift is getting the clients up in the morning. After spending 6 or 7 hours trying to stay awake and reminding yourself to do checks each half hour, it’s nice to have interaction.
In the morning, some of the clients are pleasant and some are grouchy, but they are all so grateful and kind. One moment a client is grumbling at you, then a moment later the same client is apologizing or thanking you for your help.
It is difficult to describe the feeling I get interacting with these people. The best word would probably be thankful.
In the evening the clients are all awake and lively, it’s a completely different experience. I get to play games and read stories with them, it’s fun.
One of my favorite interactions occurred in the afternoon.
I was helping a client get ready for bed before their nighttime snack. I asked her if she wanted coffee or water and she suddenly became irritated and looked away. Right away I knew she was upset. Suddenly she began screaming, calling me names, and punching the wall. I was thrown off at this because she was generally a sweet and funny lady.
Right away I wanted to stop her from punching the wall so I called her name to get her attention. I then removed myself (as I seemed to be her trigger) from the situation, allowing another worker to step in.
My favorite part of this story comes next. Because she was upset, she just went to bed instead of getting a snack. But before falling asleep she called me into her room to apologize. She said she was sorry and hugged me while she cried.
This touched me and gave me so much respect for her. It takes a big person to admit when they are wrong and apologizing. So many people seem to struggle to do just that. Since this interaction, I have witnessed her apologize so many times for her outbursts.
The other clients are also kind. They are constantly thanking the workers, using their manners, and asking about the workers’ days.
The Moral of the Story: Kindness
I suppose the moral of my story is that kindness makes a huge impact. One kind interaction can lead to more kind interactions and better overall experiences. Even if you aren’t interested in changing adult diapers, you can help people with random acts of kindness. Try doing something for a friend or significant other that you know they’d appreciate (but that you don’t really want to do). Then watch as it makes their day
No one can know how others are feeling and a simple act of kindness (such as apologizing or doing the dishes) can turn someone’s day around completely. When the client apologized for yelling at me, it made my night. I highly encourage everyone to do something kind, because it really does make a huge difference.