A person’s disability is not always visibly obvious, so people should be more considerate to people around them and not make assumptions.
That’s the advice MercyCare disability support worker Natasha would like people to keep in mind as they go about their everyday lives.
Natasha, who works one-on-one with people living with a disability says she’s been surprised to be questioned by people when using disabled parking bays with an ACROD parking sticker just because someone’s disability is not obvious to them.
As a support worker, Natasha works with a number of service users throughout the week, visiting them and working with them to achieve goals they’ve set for themselves to improve their wellbeing and independence.
In the lead up to International Day of People with a Disability on December 3, she is asking that people be more accepting of others as it’s impossible to always know what someone is experiencing or dealing with.
She said while some people with a disability might use a wheelchair or have a walker to help them get around, other disabilities were not as visible.
“One particular lady I work with, has a lot of pain in her hands from arthritis and finds it really hard to use them in different ways.
“She can’t do things like peg the washing on the line or wash the dishes but then she’s able to run a vacuum through the house, so people might wonder why she can’t get her dishes done but she’s managed to do vacuum the floors.
“It’s all to do with her particular condition,” Natasha said.
Natasha has worked as a disability support worker for MercyCare since MercyCare began offering disability services in 2016.
“I enjoy looking after people, people are really appreciative of you helping them in their lives and you form a bond,” she said.
Her days vary greatly depending on the people she is visiting and their needs.
It can be an intimate job, addressing issues around independence, mental health and confidence so getting the right match between a person and their support worker is really important.
Natasha said her work is a lot about being able to chat with someone, holding a conversation but also knowing when not to talk.
“You can always find a common interest with someone, you’re not going to have everything in common, but you can always find something,” she said.
Natasha said the most challenging part of her job is keeping people focused on their plan and their end goal when they might’ve had a bad week or not be feeling motivated.
“It happens with everyone, it happens with me. But you don’t want to be a parent or forceful and you can usually talk it over,” she said.
“Generally, once people are in a routine, they are happy to continue.”
While Natasha can be pretty exhausted at the end of the day, she said her job is “great”.
“It enriches their lives, but it also enriches my life too, to do something meaningful,” she said.
“When I did come to start working with MercyCare, the main goal for me working was to find work that I enjoy doing rather than going to work as a job.
“It is worth it because of the appreciation you get from people.”
Read part two of our look at life as a disability support worker on Tuesday