Why I chose to become a support worker
What began as a suggestion has since turned into a fulfilling career of care, compassion and companionship for Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) student Marie-Claude Brinckfieldt.
Hi, I’m Marie-Claude Brinckfieldt and this is my story.
In what was another typical day in my previous job, I was cleaning the home of Bob, an elderly gentleman who lived in Cooloola, when he gently suggested I consider becoming an individual support worker.
Bob is one of the dearest and sweetest people I’ve ever met and I can only assume he suggested this career option to me based on the friendship and familiarity that had developed between us over time and the help I provided him during his final years.
I must admit that while the suggestion did initially take me by surprise, it didn’t take long for the thought to grow and blossom into something more concrete; yes, I could turn my love of helping people in need into a meaningful career.
And so began my journey with TAFE Queensland. After some online research and looking around for options to become a support worker, I settled on TAFE Queensland as the ideal choice to gain my formal qualifications.
This has proven to be one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; I loved my Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing) course, I loved all the practical, hands-on training I was able to get, and above all, I loved my teacher Jenny Nichols.
Jenny has an incredible amount of industry experience and knowledge but what makes her an outstanding teacher is her passion and her desire to share and show everything she knows.
Because Jenny prepared me exactly for what to expect, I was never surprised once I started working as an individual support worker.
One of the most rewarding things about my job is that I get to earn the trust of the people I support and in doing so, I’m able to provide them with the quality care and support they deserve.
Being able to go into someone’s home and have them share a part of their life and their stories with me and cultivating the rapport, and mutual trust and respect is a privilege I never take for granted.
I currently support about five people a week in my local community and I truly enjoy every one of them and their company for various special reasons.
One of the best pieces of advice my teacher Jenny shared with me is that when doing my job, I must always remember, “it is never about you.”
These words are never far from my mind whenever I experience the odd challenging or unexpected moment in my job.
Because it has to be said that my job is not without its bittersweet moments; while I am proud of and love what I do, I know my skills are only called upon when someone is no longer able to look after themselves or do the simple everyday tasks that we all take for granted.
Things like remembering to take their medication, returning a phone call, making a sandwich or getting dressed suddenly become huge and even overwhelming tasks so I need to apply the right balance of understanding, patience, tolerance and sensitivity. “It’s never about you”.
As Jenny has taught me, the people I support and look after are unique individuals who have had real, lived experiences and often interesting lives – people who have contributed to their communities and helped build this country in their own way.
It’s often over cups of tea or while I’m cleaning their homes that some of the most inspiring and poignant stories are shared with me by the people I’m helping.
Those who know me describe me as softly-spoken, gentle and articulate. Having spent most of my life in New Caledonia before I moved to Australia ten years ago, I’m French Polynesian and bilingual.
Perhaps it’s this ability to communicate and understand things in more than one language, to read and connect with people, and knowing how to make them feel comfortable is what has given me so much joy and meaning in my job – which is not a job, by the way.
The reality is that we definitely do need more people like me to do this job. I’m one of the more than 460,000 support workers that make up the care economy in Australia and with a growing ageing population that’s expected to reach over 40 million by 2063, our skills are urgently needed, now more than ever.
I would like to dedicate this story to the memory of Bob Lambert who inspired me to become a support worker through his wonderful suggestion and who has left a lasting impression on me.
To find out more about a career in the aged care industry, visit tafeqld.edu.au or call 1300 308 233 to see how we can help you define your greatness.