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Embracing The Unknown: My New Role During Lockdown

Magda is a Certitude Support Worker, who has recently moved from working at a day centre to a ‘Supported Living’ house to help the team during the Covid-19 crisis.  Here she writes about her experiences working with a new team in a new environment and what she is learning along the way. 

Magda, a Certitude Support Worker

So it happened. The decision to close Certitude’s day centres has been made. Now I’m standing in front of the door of a Supported Living house, expected to work here, temporarily. Pressing the bell, I feel confused and unsettled. What am I supposed to do? How can I transfer my skills and knowledge into such a different environment than the one I’ve known for such a long time?

Starting again

I ask the support workers who already work here hundreds of questions, with hundreds others still in my head. Supporting people for almost 5 years, I feel like I’m starting a new job, not really sure what to do, but with the same desire as always: 

I want to be useful I don’t want to just stand there and watch, I want to be able to do all of those things myself – and do them to the best of my ability. 

Since I got out of my comfort zone, facing this new reality with so many changes, working various shifts, irregular hours and sleep-ins, I sometimes feel like I’ve lost my balance. I know that might sound ridiculous, but working at a day centre is just so different from Supported Living in many ways, one of which being the regular and predictable routine of the day and week.

Let’s start with that – the routine. I’m not talking about my routine. I am here for these people, and they struggle even more than I do. Their lives used to be so busy and their schedules full of activities; shopping, day centre, lunch, open sessions, cinema, pub. Yet all of this just disappeared from their lives within a few days. It is so difficult to comprehend. I don’t have to know them well to see the impact of lockdown on their life and mood. The importance of routine to human beings is often overlooked.

Learning to adapt

So I am learning. I am taking it day by day with simple steps, asking many questions, without expectations and with a lot of gaps to fill. Through growing my knowledge, observations, experience and conversations, through bonding, having help from my new team mates and working my first lone shifts, slowly, gradually, the tension starts to ease…

I am learning it doesn’t matter what happens in one week, one month or six.

Let’s just focus on today and try to make the best of it. Let’s make a bed together, cook dinner and have a chat whilst peeling carrots. Let’s go for a walk since the day is sunny and warm, then try some activities online to fill in those gaps during the day.

It is all doable and it feels so good when you see that somebody you have only known 2 weeks is starting to trust you and allow you to be a part of their life.

Feeling grateful

There is another aspect to this: I feel even more appreciation for my job. Not only can I leave my home, but I can do something meaningful, I can make a difference to somebody’s life, I can learn new things, I can develop and improve. Of course at the same time I can feel a bit overwhelmed with some tasks, confused about where all this clothing, belongs, panicky about cooking this huge lamb leg – but it takes my mind off everyday worries and overthinking. 

My new role helps me refocus and it’s saving me in these difficult times we are all facing.

Thank you to all people I support; I received and learnt so much from you! Thank you to my current team for your help, patience, understanding and for sharing your knowledge with me. And thank you to my original team as you are doing exactly the same as me, facing those challenges and overcoming them so beautifully. You are all an amazing bunch of people and I am so grateful I can share my path with you!

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