Job Title: Residential Program Instructor
Type of Company: I work in a group home with severely disabled special needs adults. My clients can't communicate verbally though they do make noise, and they can't walk or rely on a wheelchair.
Education: high school certificate, Medical Assistant, Capital Community College (Hartford, CT) Emergency Medical Technician-Intermediate, Wethersfield Volunteer Ambulance, Class of March 2009
Previous Experience: I started working for Wethersfield (CT) Parks and Recreation with their special needs after-school program and summer camp. I worked there for five years. Then I worked for a mobile stroke screening company, and after that I worked for a paid ambulance company.
Job Tasks: My primary responsibilities are to help my four clients get ready for the day. My own day starts at 6 in the morning when I help my clients get dressed and get into their wheelchairs with the help of a mechanical lift. They are non-ambulatory so they can't walk like everyone else. Once my clients are up in their wheelchairs, they help me make breakfast. The clients can tell me what they want to eat through eye gaze. I give them a choice and if they keep looking at one item more than the other that is what they want. After breakfast my clients get their medications. Being able to give medication is a big thing at my job. We have to take a class and pass a test before we can give our clients anything. Once the medications are all done we move on to the rest of the morning routine.
This is pretty much like everyone else's: my clients get their teeth brushed and get their jackets on and then we bring them to a van and head off to their day program, which is kind of like school.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is seeing my clients have a blast and really enjoy what's going on around them. I love seeing them smile and hearing them laugh.
The worse part of my job is the paperwork. It's great to be able to go out into the community and do things but then afterward I have to sit down and remember everything that went on and that can be pretty hard to do some days.
Job Tips: If you want to work with special needs adults and get into a group home setting, get some experience by volunteering at Special Olympics and apply to as many group home companies as you can. Don't get discouraged if you don't get the job at the first company you apply to.
Additional Thoughts: When I first applied to the company I never thought I would be working with the clientele I have. I remember thinking to myself "Oh, I don't want to do that." I was so wrong. I love my job. I love the challenge. A lot of people think that I am a "Group home aide." But I am so much more than a group home aide. If a student were to shadow me at my job I think they would really be surprised at the amount of work that goes into getting someone ready for the day.
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