As anyone who knows me well will attest, I like spicy food. I write about it in “Some Like It Hot“. I guess that if variety is the spice of life, then my days and work are also very spicy.
A common misconception about me that is perpetuated by people who hear me talking social work or psychology, is that I’m some kind of therapist or counselor. I’ve been introduced that way and always have to correct it.
I am a social worker in the trenches. What I mean by that is that I don’t sit in an office, unless I’m doing administrative stuff. My work is out in the community with clients, teaching life skills and making sure that people who don’t normal have access to community activities because of disability get a chance to get out of their homes.To further complicate things, I’m also a software engineer with over two and a half decades of experience. I maintain several web sites, including this one, and accept freelance contract work. How I added social work to software engineering is a long story for another article.
My social work activities fall into different categories as follows:
Activities of Daily Living
These are things like helping people with mobility issues get around, helping people process the information they are receiving, helping with hygiene and cleanliness.
This part of the job is the part that most people hear about and think what a fun job I must have. It means that I help clients who have a hard time getting out into the community and doing fun things have a chance to do just that. It takes me to a lot of places and activities that are fun, but are just as much work for me as many of the things you do.
Community Living Skills
It’s a little bit of a misleading name, I think, but that’s what the system calls it. I think it is misleading because some of it is done in the client’s home or my home rather than out in the community. These are things like teaching how to clean up their house, do their dishes, cook, do laundry, rides buses, navigate in the city, and anything else that you and I probably know how to do.
This is the part of my work where I do assessments of individuals with unwanted or problem behaviors and write plans to deal with those behaviors. The plan addresses not only things the individual can do but also authorizes and teaches family members and other support personnel how to react to the behaviors. As part of the work, I do that training of family members and other staff.
I have to admit that this is something I’m qualified to do, but have not yet had the experience of doing it. It is not something that is often used by the system. It’s purpose is to help clients who are dealing with difficult social problems related to relationships and sexuality. Like behavior consulting, it involves the writing of assessments and plans as well as training family members and staff.
So, that doesn’t really give you a picture of any typical day. I don’t have typical days. My days have variety, and are, therefore, spicy.
A typical day might go something like this. I arise at around 3:38AM and gather up gym clothes and swim trunks. I go to my gym and swim or do water aerobic activities until about 6:00AM. I leave the pool and take my first shower of the day before going upstairs and lifting weights. After that, I shave and take another shower.
I either go home for breakfast around 7:30AM or head to meet a client, grabbing a quick breakfast on the way. I usually start at 9:00AM, but that is only typical. I could start work at any hour. Sometimes I have breakfast with a client.
I try to finish around 5:00PM, having seen between one and three clients depending on the contracts I have with them. It’s not unusual for me to work well into the evening.
The time between when I first meet up with a client and head home is filled with variety. I could do anything from the following list of things I take clients to do, which is not comprehensive. I’ve done much more.
- Eat at a restaurant
- Teach cooking
- Go to a doctor appointment
- Go to a court hearing
- Help make a budget
- Take a shower with a client at a locker room
- Coach a client in how to wash correctly
- Work out
- Relax in a hot tub
- Help a client fill out a form
- Attend mental health appointments
- Pay bills
- Shop for food
- Plan a menu
- Go miniature golfing
- Go bowling
- Feed ducks by the river
- Visit museums
- Visit the zoo
- Ride go-karts
- Visit the ocean
- Take a day hike
- Shop for clothes
- Read instructions
- Communicate with others
- Learn assertiveness
- Learn social appropriateness
- Learn to set boundaries
- Take a class
- See a movie
- Attend an AA or NA or GA meeting
- Go camping
- Teach a family how to not trigger an aggressive response
- Write an assessment or a plan
- Play pool
- Ride a bus
- Learn street names
- Find an address
- Visit a parole officer
- Take medications
- Program a phone
In all of these things I teach. I use methods of demonstration, step-by-step coaching, modeling appropriate behavior, having my own boundaries, employing listening skills, and a method known as motivational interviewing.
While many of these things are as fun as they sound, don’t make the mistake of thinking they are perks. I earn every penny. When I bill for this time, I’m required to justify why the clients needed the services and why they needed help with them. If it is something a client could reasonably do by himself, I don’t do it.
I’m not a paid buddy. I am a mentor who provides the means and opportunity for people who have a difficult time being in the community learn to be more independent. Most days, I enjoy it.
As a final note, I left out the activities not related to social work. On some days, I work on people’s web sites for a fee. I do custom programming. I consult on software-related issues. I also left out all of the administrative work. I spend hours doing progress reports and billing.
I’m available for hire for any of these things, social work or software engineering. You don’t have to be developmentally disabled to hire me to be a mentor. I’ve had private pay clients who were looking for this kind of assistance. I’m also available to help you with a web site or work in your office on your data processing needs.
Contact me through this web site if you want to hire me..