Encourage independence and communication skills.
I’ve spent most of my working life in the disability sector. This has ranged from elder care, with dementia and Alzheimers patients, to community and hospital mental health, acquired brain injury, intellectual disability and dual diagnosis, and working with young sexual offenders in intellectual disability services. Read “Into The Darklands” by Nigel Latta to get an idea of the kind of people I’ve worked with in this area. Over the years, I’ve gravitated towards working with high needs services working with residents with challenging behavior. The work is difficult, and also rewarding.
To be effective in this field requires primarily the ability to build effective relationships with residents, and also other stakeholders. And then to use techniques from your “toolbox” — such as role modeling, social stories, and problem solving for intellectual disability — to encourage independence and communication skills.
Consistency is a must, especially with autistic residents, so leading a team that provides consistent and familiar routines is an important aspect of working in this field.
Toastmasters International offers training in communication and leadership and is a great way to get confidence speaking in front of groups of people. Toastmasters teaches you how to get your message across in a logical and coherent way. This begins with being clear on your purpose for speaking. What do you want your audience to feel, think or do differently as a result of hearing your message? I’ve benefitted from Toastmasters over the last 20 years and have served on the club executive, including as President of Pakuranga, Pania, and Hastings Toastmasters Clubs. I’ve competed in Toastmasters speech contests and have been a national finalist three times.
I’ve worked in a Team Leader role in elder care, mental health and intellectual disability services. Part of the role is training and coaching staff. This might begin with a facility induction, and introduction to staff and residents; and include residents unique needs and risk management, behaviour strategies, training in personal cares, and medication training.
Anyone who’s worked in special needs services with autism and intellectual disability will be familiar with challenging behaviour – either physical aggression and assault, verbal aggression and swearing, faecal smearing, self harm and absconding. These can all be addressed through behaviour modification, using Applied Behaviour Analysis. Addressing challenging behaviour can begin with a functional analysis of the behaviour, identifying factors that reinforce the behaviour, getting a baseline measure of the frequency and intensity of the behaviour, introduce a strategy to modify the behaviour, and measure the effect of this strategy. I’ve had behaviour modification training from Autism NZ, Hohepa Services Ltd, and the Institute for Applied Behaviour Analysis.
Other skills include:
Management | Leadership | Team Building | Teaching | Conflict resolution | Applied Behaviour Analysis | Nonviolent Crisis Intervention | Nonviolent Communication | Psychopharmacology| Psychiatric drug withdrawal
“I really appreciate that you gave me lots of shifts and are the greatest house manager I’ve ever known. It is great to know that Hohepa have a such a lovely manager like you.”
“I guess one of the most noticeable things was your commitment and determination — I don’t think I could have gone on trying for as long as you did.”
“It seemed to me that all the residents were calm and settled because you created a safe and consistent atmosphere. You were always ready to talk and explain — I never felt as if it was too much trouble when I called and I really appreciate your straightforward and honest manner.”
“Merry Xmas & Happy New Year. Just to let you know, you have been a great colleague and friend to me. Your sense of humour keep me going all the way to the end of this year. Big heart, great personality. Have a great one and God bless you, if you happen to believe on one Jumbo Jumbo. Your African friend, Seydou”
“Not only did you ensure that everything continued to function, but you somehow built a team of staff who seemed cheerful and willing.”
“He is a valued team leader who works thoroughly, quickly and conscientiously. He shows initiative and maturity in his role as Team Leader. He is always cheerful, reliable and trustworthy. Laurence has a good sense of humour, enjoys his work caring for the elderly and can be found talking one on one with individual residents about their interests when he is not busy with his usual tasks. It is always a pleasure to work with him.”
“We would highly recommend Laurence as a well educated, reliable and respectful person.”