Finding Work You Love: A Journey to Fulfilling Employment

Rach Hoffman is a nursing home employee thriving with a developmental disability

When Rach Hoffman, a person AbleLight supports, started looking into employment, she immediately thought of childcare. She loves taking care of kids and had already studied and passed her childcare certification. However, her first two jobs in childcare left much to be desired. While she loved the work, the employers made her job more challenging. They knew Rach has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), which is similar to autism/attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This means that certain sounds can be distracting for Rach and she has a difficult time writing – and her employers weren’t quite as accommodating of these needs as she had hoped.

Instead of simply looking for another childcare position, Rach took a different approach and ended up finding herself on a new path – and ultimately found her passion. How did she do it?

Broaden Your Thinking

When Rach started looking for a new position, she broadened her thinking. Were there other career options that were like childcare? She recalled one of her earliest memories: visiting her grandma at a nursing home and having a great time. When she was a child, she would push her grandma’s chair around and play games with the residents.

Rach stresses that an interest in the elderly and a passion for the work is extremely important: if you don’t love working with the elderly, you should look for a different job. Liking the people you work with every day is important and can affect the level of care you are able to provide.

Give It a Try

Rach encourages people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to schedule job shadows when starting to investigate a new career path. By shadowing someone, you can get a sense of what the job would entail and whether you would like it before making a commitment.

If the shadow goes well, try to get a job placement for three to four months and you can move forward after that. Either your place of employment will hire you on, or you can look for a different place of employment but in the same line of work.

Find the Right Place to Flourish

While at AbleLight College at Concordia University Wisconsin, Rach worked at an assisted living and memory care unit, where she would help the residents eat and assist with activities. She was recently hired to be the Activities Assistant and she is flourishing in this role.

Rach now plans activities and games for the residents. The facility recently went to an art gallery and the residents loved it. Rach’s favorite thing about her job is that she gets to talk with the residents, hear their stories and really get to know them. Engaging with her residents on such a personal level means Rach can provide very personal and top-notch care for them that other people may not be able to do.

But perhaps most importantly, Rach found a place where her employer wants her to succeed; it is a positive environment to work in and that has made all the difference.

Find an Employer Who Will Help You Learn and Grow

Rach is consistently trying to improve herself and her skill set to provide the best level of care. She is currently looking into taking online or in-person classes for dementia and Alzheimer’s treatment, which would benefit her residents greatly. She is also receiving training on answering the phones and her employer is working with her on different tactics of taking notes. Rach is grateful to have an employer that will work with her disability in a way that moves her forward instead of limiting her.

When Rach looks to the future, she envisions working at a brand-new facility that would combine residency for the elderly with day care for preschool children, including children with special needs. With kids integrating from such a young age, they would grow up embracing their differences, and the elderly would have the opportunity to play games with the children and keep themselves physically and mentally active. Rach said this would combine all her favorite things and create her true “dream job.”

In the end, Rach’s journey to fulfilling employment came full circle when she shifted her path to begin working with the elderly. She is extremely happy in her job and looks forward to all the new opportunities ahead. Rach is a person who goes above and beyond to make her residents happy, and she makes a difference every day.

At AbleLight, we offer employment support services designed to help people with developmental disabilities thrive. Because we believe the world shines brighter when everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential.