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  • Writer's pictureButtons Support Services

Communication & patience: Through the eyes of a support worker

My name is Stacey and I am a Relationship Coordinator at Buttons. After graduating high school in 2016, I attended my very first Flying Fox camp, which had a lasting impact on my life. [What do FF do?} The education and experiences Flying Fox gave me, thrusted me into support work. I have now been a support worker for the past 6 years and the lessons I have learnt will stick with me for a lifetime.

I want to zone in on two skills that have become fundamental to me throughout my work in the disability space. From my very first experience engaging with participants, to the many years of experience as a support worker, and now my role on the Buttons Team, these two skills appear to me as imperative to appropriate support in the sector.

1. Communication:

This was the very first skill I learnt when I began support work. Communicating with

parents was a fundamental part of the role with my first participant. As a support worker

you often enter into a family's home and see them at their best, however you also see

them during challenging times. Respecting their privacy whilst also navigating the family

environment is a balance. All of this comes down to having a judgement free view.

Tip #1. “All behaviour is communication”

This is a quote that I always reflect on. I use this quote to understand behaviour during

support work however also with my friends, family and everyday interactions. Not

wanting to admit it, it has also given me the tools to understand my own behaviours -

Why do I occasionally retreat from socialising or why am I spending more time on Tik


Learning that everyone communicates in their own way is something that Flying Fox

taught me very early on. We often try to categorise people to help us understand them

better, however I feel like this is seen more often with people with disabilities. Learning

about the different ways our participants interact with the world is one of my favourite

things about support work and my role at Buttons HQ.

2. Patience:

For me patience is broken down into two different views. Teaching it and practising it.

Both of these come hand in hand and I don’t believe you can teach it within your role as

a support worker if it is something you don’t constantly try to work on yourself.

Practising patience is a skill that is always being tested and stretched to new levels.

Support work has taught me that everyone functions on different timeframes and we

need to be sympathetic to that. One thing that I am still grappling with is the different

levels of patience I have to give on different days. After giving lots of patience on one

shift, I can come home and have zero patience to give to my friends and family.

Understanding that balance is a learning curve and I need to be aware that some days I

have more to give than others.

Tip #2. Pick your battles

Understand when it is the time and place to practise patience with your participant. Are

you in a safe environment? Do you have a back up plan if things don’t go as expected?

Teaching patience is not always an easy task. It is a skill that we need almost everyday.

Waiting in lines, waiting for food, waiting for the lights to change, etc. How, as a support

worker can we teach these things, when we have all been frustrated by them at some

point? We know that some of these things can cause our participants to get heightened

which is not the goal but may be a necessary step in the learning process.

Ultimately these are skills that can always be learnt, taught and also developed over time. What's important is that we need to be aware that everyone may have different ways to communicate and practice patience. I feel extremely privileged to have been able to be able to.


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