The Things We Learn Along the Way – by Jeff Nunham
There was clearly a bit of strain and tension on the face of the care provider who sat down in my office. He was about to explain why, after less than three months as a care provider, he was resigning from Helping Hands. He came to us as a promising student heading for medical school. His father is a prominent doctor in Grand Rapids. He was very clear when I interviewed him three months earlier that his goal was to become a great physician like his dad. However, after working with several of our families, he realized that working this close with another person did not give him the kind of reward he thought it would. This realization prompted him to make a life changing decision. Now, he was about to explain it all to me. He would no longer study to be a doctor, but would instead seek a career in medical business. This was a giant decision.
What impressed me, was the fact that his time spent with a couple of our clients helped him clarify what he really wanted to do with his life. This encounter for me was one of those “aha” moments. This is when something that previously had been obscure, suddenly becomes crystal clear. Our clients are helping our care providers.
I regularly interview, train and supervise care providers who come to us to help families by caring for a loved one with a disability. They come with great compassion and idealism, focused on extending care to another person. The direction of their thinking and effort is always toward the person. “I’m here to take care of you” is the general thought process. My “aha” moment was the realization that the person we are helping is actually having an equal or greater impact on us who are the care providers.
The wonderful people we serve, some with extreme and multiple disabilities, are teaching us how to love and be loving. By virtue of their need, they call us to a greater level of commitment, making us better men and women. They reveal the strengths and weaknesses we hide within us, thus coaching us to change toward growth and maturity. What an incredible gift. And we thought we were here to help them.
We, as an agency are always seeking ways to improve what we do. The same perseverance we see in many of our clients call us to work harder to solve problems. The creative ways some of our clients communicate, urge us to think outside the box as we are being challenged by licensing authorities to require more of our staff. When you serve people who never seem to give up, they call us to a higher standard. Aha!
Jeff Nunham is the Adult In-Home Care Supervisor at Helping Hands Respite Care. He is a former pastor and often has great inspiration and advice about how we do our work.