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October 30, 2019
When Rach Hoffman, a person Bethesda supports, started looking into
employment, she immediately thought of childcare. She loves taking care of kids
and had already studied and passed her childcare certification. However, her
first two jobs in childcare left much to be desired. While she loved the work, the
employers made her job more challenging. They knew Rach has Sensory Processing
Disorder (SPD), which is similar to autism/attention deficit hyperactivity
disorder (ADHD). This means that certain sounds can be distracting for Rach and
she has a difficult time writing – and her employers weren’t quite as
accommodating of these needs as she had hoped.
Instead of simply looking for another childcare position, Rach took a different
approach and ended up finding herself on a new path – and ultimately found her
passion. How did she do it?
Broaden Your Thinking
When Rach started looking for a new position, she broadened her
thinking. Were there other career options that were like childcare? She
recalled one of her earliest memories: visiting her grandma at a nursing home
and having a great time. When she was a child, she would push her grandma’s
chair around and play games with the residents.
Rach stresses that an interest in the elderly and a passion for the
work is extremely important: if you don’t love working with the elderly, you
should look for a different job. Liking the people you work with every day is important
and can affect the level of care you are able to provide.
Give It a Try
Rach encourages people with intellectual and developmental disabilities
to schedule job shadows when starting to investigate a new career path. By
shadowing someone, you can get a sense of what the job would entail and whether
you would like it before making a commitment.
If the shadow goes well, try to get a job placement for three to four
months and you can move forward after that. Either your place of employment
will hire you on, or you can look for a different place of employment but in
the same line of work.
Find the Right Place to Flourish
While at Bethesda College at Concordia University Wisconsin, Rach
worked at an assisted living and memory care unit, where she would help the residents
eat and assist with activities. She was recently hired to be the Activities
Assistant and she is flourishing in this role.
Rach now plans activities and games for the residents. The facility
recently went to an art gallery and the residents loved it. Rach’s favorite
thing about her job is that she gets to talk with the residents, hear their
stories and really get to know them. Engaging with her residents on such a
personal level means Rach can provide very personal and top-notch care for them
that other people may not be able to do.
But perhaps most importantly, Rach found a place where her employer
wants her to succeed; it is a positive environment to work in and that has made
all the difference.
Find an Employer Who Will Help
You Learn and Grow
Rach is consistently trying to improve herself and her skill set to
provide the best level of care. She is currently looking into taking online or
in-person classes for dementia and Alzheimer’s treatment, which would benefit her
residents greatly. She is also receiving training on answering the phones and her
employer is working with her on different tactics of taking notes. Rach is
grateful to have an employer that will work with her disability in a way that moves
her forward instead of limiting her.
When Rach looks to the future, she envisions working at a brand-new
facility that would combine residency for the elderly with day care for
preschool children, including children with special needs. With kids
integrating from such a young age, they would grow up embracing their
differences, and the elderly would have
the opportunity to play games with the children and keep themselves physically
and mentally active. Rach said this would combine all her favorite things and
create her true “dream job.”
In the end, Rach’s journey to fulfilling employment came full circle
when she shifted her path to begin working with the elderly. She is extremely
happy in her job and looks forward to all the new opportunities ahead. Rach is
a person who goes above and beyond to make her residents happy, and she makes a
difference every day.