1. You are Flexible- Because that’s the way this industry works
For those of us working in the human services industry, changes are a daily occurrence. We deal with shifts in regulations, thoughts, funding, language, community responses – you name it, it’s changing. There are days where it can feel like all these changes are impossible to keep up with. Working in the field, you know that you also must change your role constantly. You become someone who wears many different hats.
I feel so fortunate to have a chance to work in an organization that believes in flexibility. MediSked is a company full of amazing people who have worked in the human services and long-term services and supports industry for decades. I work on MediSked’s Premier Implementation Team, and we are always happy to work with organizations to best meet their needs. Our deeply embedded roots in the field gives us the unique insight into designing products and delivering services that reflect the needed flexibility to drive efficiencies for our clients.
2. Empathy has become an unconscious way of life.
I learned at a young age about people who need extra supports in some areas. Throughout my life I have worked with individuals that require all different kinds and levels of supports, including an uncle who suffered a spinal cord injury that has required him to use a wheelchair for his mobility. The human service world has gone through a major shift since I was younger. There have been shifts in language, policies, in mindsets. The regulatory changes in our industry are pushing providers to ask questions that gives the people they support options, to become truly person-centered. Imagine only being given your least favorite food to eat each day. The shift to person-centered processes have service providers asking questions like, “do you enjoy kale or what do you want to do today?”
This is one skill that I find has always stuck with me. Empathy is really taking the time to understand and relate to a person. In all my time working with all kinds of people and writing care plans, I always wished that I had a product that could help me ask these important questions to be more empathetic to a person’s circumstances. The integrated assessment used with MediSked Coordinate – Care Management Platform, is an exciting tool that dynamically populates interview questions based on the individual’s response and goes beyond just health and safety and delves into the individual’s dreams and goals. There are some amazing tools to help ensure empathy and person-centeredness is ingrained into our field.
3. You have “Thick Skin:”
Working in a support role was one of the most challenging experiences in my life. I once spent a summer volunteering on a hospice unit in a local nursing community. I spent time with an older woman, chatting about her exciting life experiences. After I had left for several weeks, I came back to find out that she had passed away. In this field, we all eventually deal with grief and tragedy and the reactions vary based on the person. For me, knowing that I had an opportunity to make that person smile helped to keep me going.
One of my worst experiences occurred when I was working on a care and planning team and found out that one of the individuals we supported was admitted to the hospital. MediSked has solutions to ensure support teams are provided with real-time information to improve care. Having access to a databased of pertinent information about the individuals I supported would have transformed the process when I was writing plans. The use of technology has positively impacted our field and allows planning teams to be on the same page with instant access to vital data.
4. You realized this isn’t just a “job” anymore.
Like many others, I have a story about why after over a decade of working in the human service field, I still do what I do. I was job hunting after I graduated from college and thought to myself, why not work in direct care? I got a job at a local provider agency, thinking that it would be a temporary position while I figured out “what I wanted to do when I grew up.” I worked as a direct support professional at a respite house. Each day there was a different group of 5 people staying at a house, similar to a hotel. Some people would stay a few weeks, others for just a night. There was this one older woman who came and stayed on a few different occasions. This woman struggled to communicate with her staff – she would yell and scream when staff couldn’t understand what she needed. After her third or fourth stay with us, I found myself starting to pick up on small cues she would give. I remember finding a new way to assist her from her wheelchair into her bed that made the transition easier and more comfortable for her. The first time we figured it out, she looked right at me and gave me a huge smile that truly lit up the entire room. This drastic change in her behavior was stunning, just from taking that extra effort to become attuned to her style of communication. She smiled and laughed because we finally figured it out.
That was the moment that I realized that this wasn’t going to just be a job for me anymore, I was going to make my career in this field. Working in the human services field truly makes you feel like you are making a difference in the lives of others. In my position at MediSked, I no longer have the direct impact on individuals. However, MediSked’s solutions are designed to improve the lives of individuals by generating efficiencies and driving innovations with technology. I find myself wondering how many of those moments MediSked has made possible by saving a DSP time on their paperwork so that they can spend the time where it counts – working directly with the individuals they support.
5. You understand when you need to stop and take a deep breath.
The human services field is not an easy sector to be in and can really be both physically and emotionally taxing. I once worked with a family member who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As a family member, you may have to constantly introduce yourself to your own mother, father, uncle, or even spouse. Watching a family member become confused by the tasks we take advantage of doing so routinely can start to eat away at you. There are other times where people are just having a bad day and might take it out on you. Working in this field, you quickly learn your own limits and gain an amazing understanding of when you just need to take a moment to yourself.
6. You understand when a co-worker needs to stop and take a deep breath.
On the flip side, I respect a coworker more for speaking up and asking a simple question of “hey do you mind taking over for a few minutes while I take a few minutes in the office?” as opposed to letting themselves get frustrated.
I used to work as a manager at a day habilitation site and am well aware that workers delivering services have little time to spare. I used to check in with the staff I was overseeing and offer 5-minute breaks for anyone who needed it. It was a simple offer that didn’t impact my schedule, but it turns out that it made a big impact for some. Two years later, one of the staff members came up to me and reflected on that moment. She had explained that not only had it been an emotionally draining day at work, but she was having personal issues going on. Those 5 minutes allowed her to regain her composure and give her full attention to the individual she was supporting to ensure that person was achieving their goals.
I love working with the Premier Implementation Team at MediSked because we support each other like this every day. As a team, we work behind the scenes to ensure that every client has a smooth implementation process. Our team includes several layers of staff, with backup team members that can jump right in to ensure seamless transitions.
7. You can communicate with others in the field in so many ways… and not so many words.
Working in this field, you learn all kinds of communication methods: ASL, eye movements, gestures, dyno Vox, and so many other ways. The most valuable communication comes when you have an awesome co-worker that always seems to be on the same page as you. It’s the person you have a great time working with because you are both able to cater to each other needs, as well as the people you support. Those co-worker bonds are always hard to come by, so you always cherish them.
8. You can’t even picture yourself in any field.
This field has done some amazing things to make me into the person I am today. I wouldn’t have it any other way.