Being a Health Care Assistant (2011)

Blog, Editoral

At the end of my time with Page One Publishing I decided to take the time to review what my needs were professionally and personally, in other words, I was done.

I did some soul-searching, research and talked to many people about what they do as well as checking myself out and what my needs were. I was a family man, with a need for stability and as I am not getting any younger, the idea of a pension sounded pretty good. I completed a Myers-Brigg test (INFP) and found myself being drawn towards health-care for the stability and the ability to work in a team-based busy environment. I always seemed more comfortable and productive in the midst of some chaos rather than still and silence anyhow so in light of the test’s  suggestions, the choice between being a clergymen or a career in healthcare seemed obvious to me.

I completed a six-month course at Sprott-Shaw College and found myself getting hired on in an auxiliary position at the Lodge at Broadmead quickly afterwards.

The job presents many challenges and a tremendous sense of satisfaction at the end of a shift. It is also very physical and gives you a lot of interaction with people, both workers, residents and their families. I help people and in many of those cases this is help that they themselves can no longer give themselves. I find a lot of reward in this but also am quite spent at the end of a shift.

Essentially as a Health Care Assistant, you are the front-line care person for residents in extended living facilities, patients in hospitals or even people in need of a home-care situation. This means you are feeding, cleaning, routine-ing (which is really just a less direct ways of saying that you are helping them go to the bathroom,) dressing and anything else they need to get along through their days.

You are doing a lot of lifting with your body and often with mechanical lifts. In my case I work with senior citizens, most of whom are veterans. Many of these people have difficulty with or can’t walk and are in wheelchairs or even bed-bound. Some of these residents are in various stages of dementia and some are in a palliative state (they are very sick and likely near their deaths.)

The challenge is to take care of many people at the same time with equal care, dignity and respect. Ideally, you leave them better off from your help in at least some small capacity. It is a hard job but when you look at it, it’s not only a necessary job, but one with great honour and responsibility. These people are someone’s parent, relative, grand-parent etc and you realize quite quickly that this could be you or someone close to you someday. It can put a lot of small things into perspective quickly.

While this is proving to be an excellent experience in many ways, my personal situation has changed tremendously since I began to take on this career. Halfway through my course to become a Health Care Assistant, my wife and I ended our marriage and we are now living separately and sharing custody of our two young children. While we are co-parenting well and working together, this new career change now presents a major problem for my time with my children. The unpredictability of my schedule, along with the reality of shift work in the medical field (working four days on, two days off shift work) instead of a Monday to Friday schedule severely impedes my time with my sons.

I have spoken to many who have done this as a career and this appears to be a reality that I can’t easily circumvent. I like the work, like the idea of a pension and solid benefits but as I continue down this path I can’t help but feel like now this job does not fit my personal goals. While it is secure, that job security (which isn’t really there yet either as I am only in an auxiliary position but that is part of me “paying my dues”) is at the expense of my experience and relationship with my sons, which now more than ever, is a huge priority.

Also as I find myself challenged by my work, there is the missing element that I am not finding the job fulfilling my creativity. While I don’t count on that to come necessarily from my job, I do think that I am also not using my natural talents fully in my job as it doesn’t call for many of them in a great capacity.

So this puts me at a crossroads, personally and professionally. Again. is part of that answer.

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