Support staff workplace responsibilities -Trainer's guide
Scenario 3 – Amela
- supervisory responsibilities
- abuse - physical or psychological and emotional
- duty of care
Amela has been working for Benrali Enterprises as a supported employee for the past three years. Over the past four weeks Sam, her supervisor, has become increasingly concerned about Amela's wellbeing. She has been turning up to work with bruises on her arms and once on her face. She has been unable to explain how she got them. She has also begun to say she does not want to go home at the end of the day.
This scenario is primarily about:
- supervisory responsibilities
- abuse – physical or psychological and emotional
- duty of care.
This scenario deals with a very sensitive issue – possible abuse of a supported employee by someone outside the organisation. Many issues might arise when this is discussed and learners may have experiences to relate. This discussion will need to be handled appropriately.
Be mindful that this is an emotive issue. People with disability have the right to be valued and treated with dignity and the way a supervisor manages situations like this must respect these rights.
It is important that you are aware of the legal implications and of your organisation's policies and procedures. Make sure you are clear about:
- reporting requirements internally
- notification of obligations under legislation
- appropriate mechanisms for verifying suspected or reported abuse
- professional networks available to support supervisors.
Amela - a supported employee at Benrali Enterprises
Sam - Amela's supervisor
Ronnie - a supported employee at Benrali Enterprises
Amela has been working for Benrali Enterprises as a supported worker for the past three years. Over the past four weeks Sam, her supervisor, has become increasingly concerned about Amela's wellbeing. She's been turning up to work with bruises on her arms and once on her face, and has been unable to explain how she got them.
Sam decides that she needs to investigate Amela's bruises. She begins by talking to Amela's co-worker Ronnie.
[Sam]: Ronnie, has Amela said anything to you about her home life?
[Ronnie]: Nah. She keeps pretty quiet about it.
[Sam]: But what about how she gets along with her father.
[Ronnie]: I dunno, really – she hasn't said anything to me.
[Sam]: OK, thanks Ronnie. Ah, Ronnie?
[Sam]: Have you noticed that Amela has been coming to work with some bruises?
[Ronnie]: Yeah – she told me she fell down some stairs.
Satisfied with what Ronnie has told her, Sam decides not to mention the bruises to Amela. As she is starting to close up for the day, Sam notices Amela lingering in the workshop.
[Sam]: Hey, Amela – you better hurry up or you'll miss the bus.
[Amela]: Um … OK, Sam, I'll finish up. Um, Sam? Could it be OK if maybe I worked a bit more today?
[Sam]: Not really, Amela – if you miss the bus there's no way for you to get home. Why do you want to work late?
[Amela]: Oh, it's just that I am not quite finished this work and I thought if I stayed for another half an hour I could get it done.
[Sam]: Well, that's really commendable of you, Amela, but it's OK to finish it off tomorrow. It's not due until the end of the week anyway.
[Amela – sounding disappointed]: Oh … OK then.
Sam is a little bit unsettled after her conversation with Amela. She decides that perhaps she needs to speak to Amela's parents and see if there's anything wrong at home.
[Sam]: Hello, Branco? It's Sam here from Benrali. How are you?
[Branco – on the phone]: I'm fine. Can I help you?
[Sam]: Well, it's probably nothing, but I've noticed that Amela has come to work with bruises on her arms. Apparently she said she fell down some stairs. Is that right?
[Branco]: That's right, but she's OK.
[Sam]: It's just that she seemed like she didn't want to come home today. Is there anything wrong at home?
[Branco – getting angry now]: No, everything is fine. I thank you to mind your own business.
[Sam]: Amela, what's happened?
[Amela]: Um, nothing.
[Sam]: But Amela, you look like you've been in a fight. Did your father hit you?
[Amela – defensive]: No. Why do you say that?
[Sam]: Sorry. I'm just worried about you, that's all.
[Amela]: Well, I'm fine, and please don't say things to my father like I don't want to come home.
- What should Sam do now?
- What are your reactions to the scenario?
- What are the issues raised?
- What do you think Sam was hoping to achieve by ringing the family?
- What could Sam have done differently?
- Which Disability Services Standards does this scenario relate to?
- What are your organisation's policies and procedures in relation to this kind of scenario?
- Are there policies and procedures in your organisation that you need to revise or update as a result of examining this scenario?
- Are there legal or other issues that relate to this scenario? What are they? Is there any legislation you should be aware of that relates to this scenario?
- Has Amela's privacy been respected?
- Are there circumstances where you would consider doing what Sam did?
- Did Sam exceed her role by ringing Amela's family and asking the questions she did?
- Are the issues different if Amela's injuries are accidental? Why?
- How did you feel about us discussing this topic?
- What did you learn?
- How will you apply what you have learned?
A useful resource for use with this scenario could be the abuse and neglect fact sheet and flipchart.