A developmental service worker speaks out
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Jul 13, 2007  |  Vote 0    0

A developmental service worker speaks out

Stratford Gazette

I am writing this in response to all the diverse media coverage in regards to the Developmental Service workers' strike within the Community Living organizations in this catchment area.

I know that many people are unaware of what is involved in developmental services or its history from segregated institutional living to living in a regular community - in a regular house, living a regular life, using community-based resources for shopping, banking, medical services, and transportation and being a valued member of society.

After being in this field of service for more than 25 years and having a vast line of experience from working at CPRI, working as an EA for the London School Board, working part time for various agencies including Forward House, St. Mary's Association for Community Living, Salvation Army Childrens' Village, and Med Care, VON, being seconded to CPRI with the Behaviour Resource Center, and working full time for Community Living London in various areas from the Developmental Center, Plastic Packaging, the Assessment Center, Plant 3, Work Alternatives, and the Access program, I address you with the issues of fair pay for comparable work done in comparable fields.

A developmental service worker wears many hats and is ultimately responsible for service given and provided for an individual with developmental disabilities.

A DSW (Developmental Service Worker) carries out tasks from the mundane such as house cleaning for/with the individual's, laundry, meal planning, cooking and serving, to the personal care of each individual which would and could include bathing, personal hygiene, and toileting or incontinance care.

A DSW would also be responsible for each person's budget, bill payment, banking, and accountability of how individual money is spent. Appointments for health care personell are all scheduled by the DSW staff, attended by the DSW with the individual person, and reports documented for each individual file, with follow up appointments to be arranged and attended.

The DSW staff is also responsible for family-guardian meetings attended by supervisor/person-centered planning staff. DSW staff are responsible for writing monthly, six-month and yearly reports including all health issues, social issues, behavioural documentation, hopes and dreams of future planning, and previous results of past meetings, doctor visits, planned family visits, goals achieved, etc.

Community awareness, transportation training (bus, taxi, Para Transit, walking,etc), social awareness, expectations and interactions, and collaborating plans for several individuals who may reside or work or go to school together are all part of the daily expectation for each DSW who works in this field.

In regards to comments made by Dalton McGuinty, Steve Peters, Christopher Bentley, and Debra Matthews who have either not responded to personal phone calls and emails made to their offices nor have they answered the basic question, "Who has the money and where has it been spent if it has been given out to individual associations?" In media interviews it appears that money has already been allotted to the individual agencies. Unfortunately two per cent is not enough if that is what was allotted. Have they forgotten about "pay equity" and that it was legislated to "eventually" create equity between the government-based agencies and the community-based agencies? Truth from both the government and Community Living Agencies would be in order. Self righteousness on either of their parts at this juncture would be self-defeating. Both need to get back to the bargaining table. DSW workers felt there would have been an 11th hour proposal three weeks ago.

Never have we been on strike. Yet now we managers, supervisors, and replacement workers are fulfilling our job as best we can...the etiquette of being on strike has allowed us to picket, "hold up traffic" for periods of time, write letters, make phone calls, be concerned about the individuals we support, inform the general public about what we do and who we are and the inequities with in our sector.

We realize that in order for us to be heard, it will have to affect everyone - parents looking after their own children despite their needs, age or ability, traffic being stopped or slowed, politicians being made to be accountable to their constituents and to their offices of responsibility at Queens Park, management stepping up to the plate of individualized care, and each and every DSW whether on strike or not being committed, supportive and aware of the title and responsibility that a DSW (Developmental Service Worker) has in order to fulfill their chosen career and profession. We are professionals in our field!

Miriam Berry

RR 2, Dutton

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