My placement this Sem is a totally new experience because:
1. It is at a nursing home – which means I’m interacting with a client population I’ve had no previous experience with
2. It is semi-independent – which means we (Coursemate and I) do not work under a supervisor. We are the main therapists – Or at least we take turns to be the main therapists and co-therapists. I have to readjust my mindset, especially when I’m taking on the role of Main. It has always been easier for me to follow directions than initiate it, and now I have to do it almost every other week. We are being stretched in aspects of planning for sessions, doing assessment reports, coming up with client goals, evaluating them… Basically just getting a feel of what it’s like to be an independent MT, and it is great to feel stretched and feel learning taking place.
If there’s anything I’m still unsure about, it’s about whether I ever want to work in a nursing home, or with aged care populations, permanently. As I was saying to a friend, the moment-to-moment work is meaningful. The old folks, who usually sit in their beds or chairs all day, actually come alive when they are singing, listening to or playing instruments, engaged in social interaction and co-activity. For those moments, their existence is validated, their actions have a purpose, their eyes light up and they are alive and aware of it. According to the head nurse, the level of confusion among the residents actually decrease when MT students come around, and increase during the months when none come.
But with aged care populations, the underlying fact remains that this is probably all we can do. That moment-to-moment validation and interaction. We can’t measure much of their progress, due to the simple fact that they don’t have much time left on the physical plane. For many, the main goals center around temporary respite from their condition, more than any permanent improvement. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about that. I think I’ll eventually get used to it if I work in it long enough, but I wonder if it’s what I want to do, as opposed to working with children and adolescents, client groups who have more measurable and life-impacting goals and potential. Is this the result-oriented side of me talking?
Time will tell.