I’m into week 4 of a 120 hour placement for the course I’m doing in disability support. I’ve also started working as a support worker at a local community centre – for aged care, not disability. Everyone is nice; I’ve been invited to social events already (although I’m still my awkward self) and it’s been eye-opening so far, although quite confronting. Everytime I see an elderly client, it’s a reminder of how vulnerable we are, and when I hear of ‘difficult’ behaviour from clients at my placement – there’s an explanation for the behaviour (trauma, mental health issues, dementia etc.) Some of the behaviours we can improve (within the scope of support workers), some which we can’t, and psychologists/social workers/psychiatrists will need to intervene. I heard today that as support workers, we can’t leave the premises of the house after the situation escalates as we have the duty of care to keep the client safe (what if the client slits her wrists while we hide in the car?) and that we have to remain calm, although guarded. The support workers work within their scope of practice and let the clients exercise their dignity of risk (but not without some prompting), but in turn, both the client and workers fall into status quo.

In spite of that, it struck me how right it feels, to be doing this, to help people and do something that has tangible effect. Writing is/was my passion, and before that, reading, but the struggle to improve was quite lonely, intangible and futile, even while I was completing my Bachelor of Arts, although regardless of how difficult writing is, I’m still spending half of my fortnightly paycheck on new books. Specifically, some poetry and some classics (I bought Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and In Search of Lost Time by Marcus Proust) to celebrate my 30s (ha!). So far, it has been quite nostalgic. Even though majoring in literature, creative writing and linguistics hasn’t led me down a defined path, I still very much cherish the memories of the learning.

I’ve enrolled in a Social Work degree via part-time distance learning. It was difficult to make up my mind; a degree is a heavy investment, both time and money-wise, after all, and what if I’m not good at it? However, I’ve accepted my offer – it came the same day I received my job offer and I’m delighted and optimistic. Meanwhile, my mother’s still hoping I’ll switch careers to become a dental assistant. But no, I’m keen on the route, though it is a difficult one. ‘Social Work‘ within university, like creative writing, is practise-based; that is, focused on reflection, but also making my passion sustainable (via discipline and routine) and ethical, and instilling all of that learning onto the page, into my speech and practise.