Equip is an organisation that doesn't only affect clients' lives, it's a place where workers are changed too. I can't find a better example than myself.
My entry to Equip was rather an interesting one. After leaving Wellington due to needing a change of scene, I struggled to find work. After two months of not finding anything, and helping with some voluntary painting, my Father encouraged me to go and chat with the people at Equip to find out about working in the social services.
I thought maybe I could help out by doing odd jobs, as all I had to my name was a nearly finished sociology degree. After going through an interview process I was offered a job! I arrived at Equip with no knowledge, no experience and nervous as heck. Equip was pretty small then, as an organisation. We only had two rooms of the current block, one for general meetings and supervision and one for all staff to hand write notes, email, phone, eat lunch and have staff meetings.
As we have grown into something else, the specialness of the place has not changed. in the seven years I have been here, we have become more efficient and effective in the community and offer more services to those in the community. Often when something grows it loses what draws people in. This is not the case at Equip. People do not get lost at Equip, they find themselves and what they are meant to do. I see people now who have moved on to other things, working in different sectors taking the skills they learnt and utilising them in their world. I see people thrive in this sector and have continued to pursue careers in mental health. For me, I chose to study, get qualified and was blessed with a role that challenges me to inspire, support and teach those here at Equip. Equip for me has always been a place of learning and developing character. For so many of the young people coming in, it is a hard journey of having your eyes opened to a world not many see or when they do, choose to ignore. I don’t know yet where I will head in the future but when I succeed in whatever I do, it will be due to my time at Equip.
Hope is prominent in this place. Though the workers sometimes have challenging days, the offices are a place of safety, a place where you can be open with the person next to you. A place where someone says, “that didn’t sound good” after over hearing a difficult phone conversation, and offer a debrief. Life can be interesting sometimes, and the work we are in is definitely that. As one of the longer standing team members now I feel like the organisation has shaped a large part of who I am and I see it with other team members.
Equip as a service changes workers lives, thanks to the ethos it was founded on and those who came before me and those who are still here and the focus they installed into the bones of the organisation many years ago. May it long continue.
Current Team Leader
To give you an idea of what kind of things you may be doing as a Support Worker at Equip, one of our staff has summed up a typical day.
A day in the life of a community support worker in Equip’s Packages of Care team
I arrive in the morning, make a coffee, check my e-mails and messages, then follow up on messages that I have received. I then enter any notes from the previous day that I haven’t entered, and phone or text my clients to confirm what time I am meeting with them today.
Today I am heading to Red Beach to support a Package of care client with whom I spend 5 hrs per week, which is broken into 2 visits.
• Check in with client asking how their week has been, what activities have they been doing.
• Review goals and tasks set from the last meeting.
• Do an activity that is working towards their goals. (For example, Goal: I want to learn how to food shop independently – We may go to the supermarket to learn this skill or catch a bus with the client as another step to completing their goal.)
• Do some interactive education (education, skills and strategies on how to deal with depression) and community skills modules.
• Sets tasks to do that are working towards their goals.
• Plan activity and time to meet next. (This is very important to do, as it can save you a lot of time trying to contact the person and organize a time to meet next, then negotiating what you are going to do with them!)
Next I am heading back to head office to meet with a client that is a Community Support Work Client (whom I support for about an hour a week). This client I will do much the same as the first client except keeping in mind that I have only one hour so I generally will follow a similar agenda to the previous meeting. This time though, we are going to be going through some interactive education about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with their family.
I have a lunch break, before heading to my next client that needs support with WINZ, followed by a review meeting with the treatment team.
Then I am heading back to the office to complete my admin, time sheets for the day, write notes about the meeting with clients what was achieved and the plan for the next meeting, and follow up on phone messages and e-mails.
What I love about this job is that no two days are the same!
A day in the life of a community support worker in the Older Adults Team
Working with Older Adults in Mental Health can be different in the sense that a physical disability can accompany a mental problem or bring about a mental illness. For example, if someone is suffering from a major depressive disorder, this may have been brought about because of a diagnosis with Parkinson Disease which can affect their mobility, their relationships, in fact all facets of their daily life. Also, Dementia can cause a person to feel, frightened, isolated and they can lose their will to live. Suicide rates can be high amongst the older adult population.
At Equip we try to help Older Adults to maintain their independence, accept and deal with their disabilities and put support services in place that are needed. Sometimes we take them out for an hour or two, help them to recreate old interests or to find new ones. It is about helping them to find value in their lives, and valuing the skills and wisdom they have to share with others.
When Kevin first first came to Equip he didn’t really have any social contacts and this wasn’t helped by him having no phone or means of communication. Kevin’s first goal was to get a cell phone which he has now and is used to keep in contact with his family.
Over time Kevin was supported by Equip staff to get out of the house and have social contact with his family as he was very isolated living on his own and having no friends... He joined a social group which helped him have some contacts with people who had common interests to himself and it gave him somewhere to go. This lead to Kevin going out to visit his friends down the road and had a few visits with his family which he really enjoyed. He said it made him feel really good spending time family but he didn’t think his they would want him to live with them.
Kevin had stated in the past that he wanted to get back into his old work as a builder but hadn’t made any steps towards this. During the visit to his family home he did some building work and discovered how much he had enjoyed doing it. It made him realize that he was capable of working again. Kevin and his support worker problem solved ways to look for and get building work. He ended up finding a job through a friend which he wasn’t needed for in the end but he was really happy about the prospect of getting work and an income.
Kevin’s suppork worker spoke on and off with Kevin’s family members and let them know how much Kevin enjoyed going to their place and spending time with them. In fact Kevin ended up spending Christmas with his famliy whereas normally he would be on his own.
Just recently, Kevin decided to move in with family and is enjoying greater connection with them and his confidence had grown to a point where he was able to make the relocation arrangements himself. Kevin’s family say they love having him closer to them again and are supporting his efforts to get permanent work.