Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The choice that's not really there (this has nothing to do with the abortion issue, I promise:)

Christ is Born! Glorify Him! We had a lovely Christmas with my family. I am now at work (with not a lot to do today) and so I have decided to attempt to write about what it is that I do, exactly (meaning… my work).

I work for a for-profit agency that assists adults with disabilities in finding a job and maintaining that job. We are a privately owned agency with government contracts (this translates into us having to jump through lots of wonderful bureaucratic hoops and red tape…AAAGGGHHH). I work very part time (Mondays and Tuesdays and sometimes write up reports from home) so my responsibilities include doing paperwork/administrative stuff for our office when I am in the office and keeping in touch with my few clients. I focus in on clients who are developmentally disabled; most of which have been with us for 8 or more years and are fairly stable in their jobs. We also try to schedule new client orientations on Mondays or Tuesdays so that I can do this (which means having the new clients sign a bunch of release of information forms, going through our company policies, filling out the “individual profile” form, and beginning to examine what are the clients interests as far as future work. This, finally, is what I want to write about, today.

There are lots of buzz words in this industry (even the term “client” has changed… my favorite was “consumer” as in “they consume all of your time, energy, and patience” just kidding, ha ha). I think the current buzz word is no longer “client” but “individual”. An improvement to “consumer” but I think I still prefer client the best. I don’t know it is sometimes difficult to keep up with all the change. And I really doubt that my “clients/consumers/individuals” really care what they are called.

So… a few weeks ago I began working with a new client who I will call Jane (as in Doe, Jane Doe). She came into our office, begrudgingly (it is our policy to do orientation at our office… we want to see if the client is willing to come to our location because when we do find them a job they are going to have to be able to get to their work site and be prompt, etc.). Jane wanted me to come to her home (which is not our policy). So, Jane comes in, is pleasant to speak with, has some issues with hygiene that we will need to work on, seems to be “with it” and knows and understands what is going on around her. The problem, and in a moment I will introduce another favorite industry buzz word, is that she straight out told me she doesn’t want a job, she doesn’t want to work, it will be too hard for her. And I’m having this meeting with you because…..

And here’s the buzz word… choice. Client choice. Consumer choice. Individual choice. Choice is huge. Everything revolves around the client’s choice. Where do they want to work and what do they want to do and we are supposed to find a job that fits into that choice. The one choice they are not allowed to make (as I am slowly finding out in the last two weeks since meeting with this client) is the choice to not work at all. That’s my problem, currently, with this new client. Do I convince her that she wants to work, that it won’t be hard, and that it might even be fun? I have been trying to schedule another meeting with Jane but she, as it turns out, is kind of a hypochondriac. And she is in the midst of moving. And she doesn’t really want to come out to our office. Oh, and she would like to learn how to read (not a service that we usually provide) but she still doesn’t want to work. I’m being told by that bureaucratic entity with all the hoops and red tape to continue working with her. Where is the choice in that? Mind boggling, isn’t it? Next week I will try to post about some of our success stories…those clients that want to work and have been working for a number of years. Those clients that leave sweet messages on my voicemail. Those clients that are excited about life and enjoy the challenges that face them everyday. I will probably also write more about Jane because there are other issues involved in her life.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

That's interesting, because we certainly have an expectation in our society that the *goal* of life is to work.

And, I believe wholeheartedly in helping others that need our help, I do not believe in letting people fall through cracks, and I thank you for the work that you do.