When a person has disabilities, it doesn’t mean they can no longer be useful members of their family or community. Depending on how a person’s abilities, there are a huge variety of things people might be able to do, no matter what. If you are blind, you can still hear, and move. If you are deaf, you can still see, and again still move.
Different people have different tolerances for pain, and what might totally incapacitate one person, could be tolerable for another. Abilities, preferences, tolerances, these factors are all important items to consider when taking on work. And of course, that word ‘work’ can mean many different things too. Work can be the things a person does in their own home when looking after the household. It can mean volunteer work when doing things for or with their community. It can mean paid work for self, or for others.
My own current ‘work’ situation is a many and varied thing, and I’m sure my experience is common to other people too, whether they live with disability or not. I am a writer and poet, so my actual I suppose ‘paid’ work is writing things that may be published and so bring in some money.
I am also the editor of a newsletter that goes out in my closest town. This is volunteer work that I do because I enjoy it. But the writing group I’m involved with gets the money for advertising in this newsletter, so that is good for the writing group, which makes me happy.
I also do some of the household work, but my husband, who is also my carer, does most of the work in our home and most of the outside work too. He does vacuuming, he looks after the lawn and he looks after the swimming pool. I cook some of our meals, but he does most of them. I also help with hanging out and bringing in the washing, which we both do either separately or alone. I’m always the one who puts the clothes away though.
Different households arrange these things, I hope, in the way that suits each person. I don’t usually do a lot of yard work, but I’m very chuffed with my own efforts today. I’ve been looking at the lawn where our swimming pool is, and tut tutting to myself over the rapid growth of the clover in the lawn. Clover gives a good green burst, but unfortunately, the kind of clover in that lawn is the type that has burrs. Bare feet and swimming pools go together well, but bare feet and burrs are painful together!
So this morning, while at home with an hour to spare, I got organised and went outside to take on these clover burrs. I put on rubberised gloves, got a nice big container, and the radio, went outside and began pulling up those horrid weeds! I didn’t think I’d get the entire job done, necessarily, but I thought I’d make a good start.
I began by leaning over and pulling up the clover plants, but quickly realised that would probably end up with falling over, so I found a burr-free bit of lawn, moved the container close, and sat down. This was much easier on my body, and I happily pulled up burrs and put them in the container. The gloves, which incidentally my husband/carer had recommended I use, worked very well, and I didn’t suffer from the nasty burrs at all.
I cleverly worked my way from my starting point a few metres away from the chair the radio was on, around and back to the chair, so getting up again was easier, when I’d done enough (and had enough!) after over half an hour of work. I’m pleased with what I’ve done, and happy to have done my bit to make more of the pool lawn burr free!
These kinds of things, tasks that are worked on, in ways that suit the person with the disability, and thought on by others who have tips and ideas to help, these factors blend to make a better workplace, with better results for all involved …