13 March, 2013

my dream is a dead end

I'm kind of in a brain fog but I realized I've never said this straight out. I kind of want to say it to my Dream Job family just so they know they are the Dream Job and I will never leave, but I guess no one needs a big avalanche of Amanda feelings to fall on them. So I will say it here.

Plus I seriously do think this is a problem.

I am a career direct support worker. We could use a bunch of words for this, like aide, staff person, nursing assistant, personal care assistant, caregiver, etc. But for me I feel like the difference is whether your job is about an action or a person. Some jobs with people with disabilities (or kids or seniors) that are about action are like therapist, doctor, teacher, social worker, etc. You're supposed to be improving the person's abilities or solving some of their problems. Some people who do these jobs are doing great stuff. Some are not. But the job is focused on changing/doing something.

Support work is about a person or people. In a bad support job, like in an institution, you're supposed to control people. In a better support job, you just help a person with the things they need help with in the course of a day. It's not like you don't expect the person to ever change when you're doing support work, and in some cases you might hope that you affect the person's life positively, but the focus of the job isn't change. It's just doing what the person needs/wants.

I got interested in working with people with disabilities just because I like being around other people with disabilities. So I was always interested in doing support work, not being a teacher or therapist or something. It's fine if people are into being a teacher or therapist, but sometimes I feel sad because I feel like I'm one of the only support workers I know who has always wanted to be a support worker and wants to be a support worker forever.

It seems like for a lot of people, direct support work is like being a cashier. It's fine for someone to be a cashier if they're doing it as a short term thing but the kind of people I grew up with would not understand how someone could be a cashier for their whole life and not have a problem with it. Most young people I've known who do direct support work are either in school to do something else (usually an action-based job) or are doing it to "have an experience" or something. I think this is too bad.

Of course, I really don't think any job should be considered less valuable than other jobs. I don't like the idea that there are only a few jobs that people should want and everyone who doesn't have one of those jobs should be unhappy and spend their time trying to get one of the valuable jobs. But when it comes to this particular issue, I find it especially frustrating. On a philosophical level, why is it that people get paid less and get less respect for supporting someone, and get so much money and status for fixing someone? Practically, it's generally better for someone to have the same support person for a long time so they can have someone working for them who actually fits their needs and knows how they like to do things.

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