The first time I came across people with a disability was when I was training to be a teacher in my home country of Colombia. I was on a teaching practical and there were three boys with special needs in the class. They were so lovely and showed me that there were so many different people in the world, so I thought what not work with people with a disability?
I’ve been in Australia for over five years now and at first I worked in a nursing home. But I found it too emotional and got very sad working with people who waited for friends and family to visit day in and day out, yet they rarely received visitors. I found a new role working with people with Alzheimer’s disease, which I enjoyed, but wanted a permanent position. I saw that Senses Foundation was advertising and applied to work with them. I have been there as a Support Worker ever since.
Every day is completely different at Senses. You never know what is going to happen and can’t expect anything in particular. You have to be flexible. My favourite thing about my role is the clients. They are absolutely amazing and achieve so much so often. I take great joy in seeing them achieve. As a Support Worker I am assisting people with vision impairment and with a disability aged 16 and over. Working with teenagers right through to seniors means I have to work out different things for people of all ages to try because it’s rare for someone who is 16 to like the same things as someone who is 70! Developing new routines and activities is important because it helps cultivate new skills and experience new things.
The people I have support have helped me learn and grow too. They helped me overcome my biggest challenge – communication. English is my second language, so I struggled with that at first. In time, my confidence in my English grew after spending time communicating with my clients. Having people be more patient when listening to and talking with me helped me become more patient and improve my communication skills with others.
Completing a lot of study has definitely helped me be a better Support Worker. I’ve done a Diploma in Community Welfare, Certificate III in Homecare and Community, Certificate III in Education Support for Special Needs, Certificate IV in Human Resources, as well as additional training in communicating with deaf and blind people and people with challenging behaviours through Senses. I try to keep busy all the time and do things that are useful to my job and life in general. Life is precious, so I don’t want to waste it.
Senses Foundation, Western Australia
- TRUE STORIES: Joseph Majambere – Supporting people from all backgrounds to become who they wish to be.