Written by Cathy Grant
March Column 2018
In many of my previous columns I’ve been pretty hard not only on the various experts that have come through my life but on some of my staff people as well. While, the experts reaped what the sowed in my opinion, I believe that I may have left the impression that I was or that I am still in a constant struggle with staff; fighting for my basic wants and needs to be recognized. This is far from the case. Especially since 2000 the vast majority of my staff have been decent hard-working people who honestly tried to do right by me. I did have a few crazy ones, but today I wanted to focus the staff members who got it right.
Let’s start off with an resent example. On Mondays I do volunteer work down at Roundhouse Community Centre. During much of the year in order to get there on time, I have to get up earlier than I normally do during the week. Fortunately, I have a sleeping overnight shift on Sunday nights. While getting me up on Monday morning has not been part of their duties, all of them have been more than willing to get up early and start my morning routine going 30 to 60 minutes earlier than normal. For me that reduces the rushed feeling in the morning that I hate. Further because it is Monday, that rushing around could potentially ruin my week by starting everything off on the wrong foot.
Another example of staff getting it right was with a recent manger with my current service provider. When he first started we had the usual talk about things I liked and didn’t like. One big take away for him was that I really liked to get things done and that delays for what appear to be no reason; really get to me. As a result, he almost always got orders filled at quickly as possible and if something needed to be completed and it was in his power to do immediately then it was done. At other times, when he couldn’t get it finished right away, he would call me and explain what the delay was and when he hoped to be able to get it complete. Again, it was a little inconvenient for him but it reduced a lot the stress from my life, which in turn made his job easier. This last bit is really important to stress by keeping me up to speed, his job was easier; a point that often gets missed in client/staff relations.
On an emotional level though I think the biggest time that staff really got it right was back in the Spring of 2001. The BC Liberals had just been elected and talk of cutbacks were everywhere. I felt that some sort of protest against the cuts was needed. What I wanted to do was to have a protest in Victoria in front of the legislator. When I expressed this to my then key worker he said “well that sounds doable let me check with the manager about hours.”
After a bit of telephone tag with the manager, my key worker came back and said “okay we can do this as long as the other staff people are okay with our plans.”
It turned into a real team effort. We went on a Monday so the overnight staff once again got me up and showered and made a thermos of tomato soup for us. The key worker got there around 5:30 am and we set off in my van the Tsawwassen Ferry and caught the first ferry out to
Victoria. Once in the Capital we did a one-woman protest (more on that in another column) for the day and the came home. We got back to my place around 9:15 pm where the key worker handed me over to the evening staff and went home to sleep because he had to work with me the next day at 8 am.
What all of these stories have in common in my opinion, was staff willingness to hear me and put my needs before their when it was reasonable. That is the key, flexibility and open communication on the staff’s part but also a responsibility on my part, not to demand (asking is fine) the moon every day.