Being a service user can be frustrating.
Paid to deal with frustrations
An employee of a retail may have a bad day at work because an indecisive shopper came in. The shopper brings their items to the counter to purchase them. After the employee scans two jumpers and a track pants, the shopper starts to have second thoughts about their items.
They say, “hold on”. The shop keeper looks at the customer a little confused, wandering whether to continue scanning the remaining items. The customer says that they are wandering if they want to buy one or both jumpers. It’s winter so probably will need both, however, the quality of one jumper looks questionable.
The customer stands there as he thinks about their decision. The shop keeper, who is standing as well, kindly provides more details about the jumpers to help the buyer decide. The buyer just listens and says nothing. They don’t even ask any further questions.
Both just stand there for ten minutes, silent. Well, the employee continues to ask questions to get an answer, but no response. Really frustrating! Twenty minutes go by, and then the customer says to remove both jumpers and to scan the beanie instead. Crazy!
Not paid to deal frustration
I don’t know if this is a realistic analogy, however, I’ve experienced frustration like the shop keeper. Although I’ve experienced frustration as a service user of a disability service. The shop keeper may have been frustrated, but they would be paid to deal with the indecisive customer.
Me, on the other hand, I didn’t get paid to deal with useless communication. As a service user I expect an organization to meet my needs to the best of their abilities. That’s what they get paid for!
They receive my government funding and they lack the basic skills of communication. I knew my carer went on leave because she told me but there was no communication from the service coordinator as to who will be coming in replacement.
Furthermore, the support worker who came to cover turned up two hours earlier than my usual time. So, I was waking up unnecessarily at 6am during Alert Level 3 lockdown.
I was not going to work at the time, and neither was I going to go meet anyone for breakfast. A 6am wake up wouldn’t even be necessary when there’s no lockdown. The replacement carer wasn’t the best either.
It was cold! She was a little less than good. It was 6am during lockdown. Why was I waking up that early?
So, my big mission started with my first email to my service coordinator. I outlined the times I want my support worker to come each day. Also, mentioned that I wasn’t getting along with the cover support worker.
I would have been happy if they just changed the time she came. However, my service provider never replied to my email. Later that day, I tried calling her a few times. But it went to the answer phone each time.
It would be lovely even if she replied, “Okay, I’ll see what I can do.” Or “Sorry, we cannot send anyone at those times” and offer another solution. But no, I got no reply or call back at all!
I emailed her colleagues to try and get my matter sorted. However, their response didn’t resolve anything. I continued emailing my service provider for another month and it was extremely tiring.
I typed emails and everything else with a Head Wand, which is like typing with a single finger. It isn’t easy and it’s time consuming! Due to my determination to make the most of my Home Support funding, I continued sending emails to a brick wall.
My service coordinator finally replied to my email a few weeks later. She changed some of the times to what I requested. Annoyingly, some of the new times she scheduled without consulting me did not work at all for me.
I was so frustrated with their crappy communication I was fed up! That was it! I considered and decided to change my service provider within a week.
The big leap
It is more comfortable and easier to stick with things that are familiar. When problems arise, we are confident to raise our dissatisfaction. We trust our issue will be sorted because of our longstanding relationship with a person or an organization.
However, my dissatisfactions were not getting resolved.
Leaving what’s familiar is a big risk. Even though I had a lot of problems with my service provider, I was really nervous about changing to another provider. A new service provider could be better. Yet, there’s always a chance of them being a lot worse!
It’s a risk and a big decision we sometimes got to make. Do we stay with the familiar that is not getting any better? Or do we take a big leap of faith and dive into the unknown that could possibly improve our lives?
Manuele Teofilo lives in South Auckland with his parents and siblings. He has graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Human Service. Now, he works at Elevate Christian Disability Trust. He enjoys getting around in his electric wheelchair and having fun with people.