What led you to your role as a Rehabilitation Support Worker?
I have worked as a Rehabilitation support worker at the Listening For Life centre since 2006. My interest in this job firstly came from a place where as a qualified counsellor, I knew I had relevant skills to offer including active listening and providing empathy, but I also knew that working with patients and their families would be a key to my own experiential development.
Secondly I had my qualifications in interpreting in Urdu and various other spoken languages and knew that some of the Yorkshire caseload would definitely have families that would be unable to express themselves in their home language and misinterpreted information by a nonprofessional interpreter and that this could impact on the care that they received.
Tell us a bit more about your role.
My role is not of an traditional interpreter as my experience at the Listening For Life centre means I am familiar in scientific and medical jargon that is specific to cochlear implants.
I will independently devise materials for appointments, do one to one sessions with patients, facilitate peer support groups for South Asian speakers; enabling them to access support which is in line with our English speaking clients.
I am responsible for translating materials including assessments, rehabilitation lessons for use at home, or working with international cochlear implants (CI) companies to develop their informative brochures which are inclusive of our patients.
When do patients come to the service?
Patients and their families usually come to us when they find that there is nothing further to gain from hearing aids. There will be those that are anxious about an operation, however I will reassure them that they have the autonomy to make their own final decision and I will make sure that they are informed in a language that they understand throughout the assessment pathway.
It’s the inner me that has faith that most people eventually find the tools to eventually accept and move on from their traumatic experience, whether it’s the shattered dreams they face when the child that they had envisaged a different life for, is born deaf and/or with additional needs, or the adult who wakes up in the middle of the night and is horrified to find that the world around him has become silent.
I will make sure that they are informed in a language that they understand throughout the assessment pathway
What does a typical day for you look like?
On a day to day basis my role will be to support our multi-disciplinary team, for example assisting the audiologists and explaining scientific jargon e.g. the anatomy of the ear or the functions of the cochlear implant.
Listening to parents as they talk about their emotional journey on finding out their child was born deaf. Sometimes I just listen whilst passing tissues around, thinking ‘how would I have coped?’
I listen to the adult who is frustrated and angry as he explains that he feels like part of the furniture in his home metaphorically because he is unable to join in the family conversations.
Occasionally I have walked away from work feeling really sad and as much as I think I am a professional, I am human and can also be emotional. I have to look after myself and recognising ‘how am I feeling’ and ask for support from my colleagues when needed.
Which Allied Health Professionals do you work with?
Working alongside Speech and Language therapists and Teacher of Deaf includes supporting and assessing of communication, listening and speech.
On occasions where the child or the adult is bilingual I am asked to do the assessment with them to gain a true reflection of their speech and language skills. Supporting these appointments allows me to understand the family dynamics e.g. who is supporting who?, who will take on the main responsibility of rehabilitation?, do they need the information in home language in order to support the child or adult in the rehabilitation after they have a CI?
Is there a key part of your role that you enjoy?
It is a job that is stressful at times but the rewards make it worthwhile such as seeing an elderly man enjoying conversation with close family or seeing a child’s reaction to sound and being involved in his listening journey.
It is always a nice feeling when the patient and their family express thanks for the support that they have received from our service. I know that they appreciate that there has not been a language barrier which they may have to face in other situations.
Are there any other aspects of your role you would like to share with us?
As well working alongside professionals I am always looking at developing or finding resources in languages other than the ones that I am familiar with. This may mean contacting CI centres or CI companies or just checking on the internet for appropriate tools that will help patients and/or their families.
I am there to support patients at all their appointments both pre CI and post CI. Some patients will ask if I will be there for their appointments, however I am part time and if I unable to be there I will always ring afterwards and check if there was anything that they did not understand or anything else they need.
Can you tell us about how you support individuals with specific language needs?
There are challenges that the right support is provided to those patients with specific language needs in order to provide a fair and impartial service. Patients and their families will be supported whether they are illiterate or have learning difficulties to access the information that is required to gain the maximum benefit from a CI.
With adults we have used Namaz prayers or recitation of the Koran or other holy books to build their listening skills. I will develop resources that are specifically personal for that particular patient. It is always a nice feeling when the patient and their family express thanks for the support that they have received from our service. I know that they appreciate that there has not been a language barrier which they may have to face in other situations.
What personal values do you bring to your role?
I will refer and apply the cultural norms as this comes from an inner place where I have been taught to respect and use a term that is respectful. I believe patients expect this as they may think I am from a similar background. It feels nice to be able to transfer this method to the patients and their families in the workplace.
Carl R. Rogers: “What I am is good enough if I would only be it openly.”
When is think of this quote which I apply to myself of wanting acceptance and respect as I am, then I need to project all these values and transfer the skills into my role as a rehabilitation support worker. I need to make sure I am striving towards being impartial and fair with respect and empathy to all.