Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Please think of those who need to use a ramp


Do you have a pet peeve? I know I do. The image above illustrates one of them.

In the apartment we are currently in, I often walk down the street and into a short pedestrian walkway or path. The street is a cul-de-sac and there are parking bays that are marked for cars to park on either side of the street. However, there is a section where the pavement / sidewalk is ramped. The ramp is supposed to be to enable anyone with any kind of mobility problem to navigate this transition from the path to the road with ease. It could be someone with a walker / walking frame. It could be someone with a stroller or shopping trolley. It could be someone in a wheelchair. But most of the time some or other car is blocking the ramp.

Today I decided to do a blog post with images of what is happening here.


Notice that there are actually two cars involved here today. This section of the pavement / walkway is supposed to remain clear for pedestrians in general and those with any kind of special need in particular. The selfish drivers have not only blocked the ramp but parked right up on the pavement too.


Notice how little space is left between the corner of the car and the low wall the supports a fence.If one is thin and able-bodied, you can of course get through. But what about someone who is larger in size and build? What about someone in a wheelchair? What about someone with a double stroller? There is no way for them to get through at all.


Here you can see the path for pedestrians that connects this cul-de-sac to the adjacent street. Take a look at just how far the car has extended onto the section that is for people to walk, not for cars at all.




If you take a look from the other end, it might make more sense as to what is happening.

I get really upset to see this kind of parking. It shows total and utter disrespect for everyone, other than the driver of the cars that have parked so badly.

Today the problem is illustrated with these two cars. However, sadly, every day we see something like this. A car that could park in a parking bay a minute or two walk down the street. What would be so bad about them walking two steps or a few?

I should have photographed the empty parking bays behind. There are always vacant bays a tad further down the street. It would really only take about 10 steps or so to see the empty bays. Not a problem for anyone who can walk to walk a few steps or even a hundred steps and leave the area where the ramp is free and open for those who require use of the ramp. If you take a good look at the cars, they do not have any disabled parking disc, so there is no reason to think they might have need for the ramp, or to be as close as possible to the school. In truth, if they had a disability, they most probably would need to use that ramp and therefore would not be parked over it.

If you are old enough to be driving, you are old enough to think about the needs of others. Please respect those who need to make use of ramps and park in the bays that are allocated for cars.

Baffled, flabbergasted by the inconsiderate behaviour of the modern driver. Please think of the needs of others. Someone who needs a wheelchair for mobility has a right for the ramps to be left free for them to use when they need it.

Shoshanah Shear
Occupational therapist, healing facilitator
Author of "Healing Your Life Through Activity"

Thursday, 22 March 2018

My Love-Hate Relationship with Occupational Therapy





I've wondered whether to write this. It might not do so well for my book, but I need to get these feelings out. So here it goes.

I have a love-hate relationship with occupational therapy. I love the theory behind the profession.

On paper and in the books it sounds like an incredible profession.

And then — reality comes in to play.

Please note, some of the gripes here pertain to my work experience in Israel. However, I have worked in 4 different countries and some problems sadly are not isolated to Israel.

Bullying in the workplace


In many facilities I have worked in I have been bullied. Further down in the article you will see how this happened in Israel. But I have experiences bullying in the workplace in 3 of the 4 countries I have worked in.

I used to think it was something against me but a few months ago I came across an online course teaching about the high statistics of bullying in the workplace experienced by OTs. I was sad to read the high percentage of OTs who leave the profession or even this world due to how they are treated at work.

The pay is nothing to write home about. Perhaps if you trained in the US and work in the US, you can earn enough but I am talking enough to own your own home and have some life to yourself.

Demands on your time

The demands of the profession are way too high. It takes over your life. With constant continuing education, reading to keep up with the profession, attending meetings, attending conferences, being available for meetings at the drop of a hat, with no prior warning. You can end up with NO life of your own.

Let's face it, I did OT to please my grandfather and the career guidance counsellor, with the goal being to earn me enough to have the time and freedom to do my art. OT has not given me that.

Sharing some of the problems


When I first began developing a photographic service, together with my husband, I was working part-time in two special-ed pre-schools. I was expected to be available for a meeting whenever the staff wanted it. With no prior notice or opportunity for planning. No warning, you were just expected to drop everything and run to the meeting. They had no respect for any appointments or clients I had arranged in what was supposed to be my own time. Paperwork was expected to be carried out in my time, at home, on my computer. They did not care that the computer I use is actually my husband's, and he earns via the computer. The demands for reports were very lengthy and detailed taking up hours upon hours of my time. All work carried out outside of the hours stated in the interview, they refuse to give a written contract, was unpaid work. This written work prevented my husband the opportunity to work either.

At one group of schools I worked in, I was instructed to sign a document agreeing to their dress code even in my time and on vacation time. I'm sorry, I am not a slave. I dress modestly and professionally but I have a right to choose my clothing, myself.

A developmental clinic badgered me, repeatedly to change my head covering in order to show part of my hair. That is just ludicrous! If my head covering meets the requirements given by Torah law, it is not for any place of work to insist that I alter that. I have a right to follow my beliefs. They would not dream of doing that to an Arab or a dark-skinned native from Africa who wears a head covering. Never. So why to a Jew, living in a Jewish country?

This same place of work that did not like my covering my hair,  altered the agreement of how many clients I would receive. Of course, they only paid per client I worked with, even if I was at work and working for longer hours. Of course while not respecting me enough to pay me, they gave me the complex clients. They maintained that they could not afford to pay me for more hours. How can that be when the health insurance companies here or Kupat Cholim in Hebrew paid them per client. If they had a problem with their finances, they had no right to take on a second OT and then refuse to pay said second OT. The right way for them to manage their facility would be to stick to one OT and pay her honestly, in full and on time.

Working conditions


My next gripe is working conditions. OT talks about the environment and working conditions having an impact on one's health. Yet, most interviews I have been to have asked if I can work under pressure and with a heavy workload that usually means you have to magically treat more clients than is humanly possible. As to the treatment rooms themselves, if you read my book you will find out some of my issues with these facilities.

So OT is an absolutely incredible profession, in theory. It promises so much. But my work experience has been that it will not provide a salary that is enough to purchase a home and have stability. With 42 moves behind me and about to face my 43rd, I can honestly say that no-one should ever work for a salary that will not give them stability.

The totally unrealistic expectations and demands on one's personal time also prevent one from being able to nurture who you are as a human being. All giving with no reserves is a sure recipe for burn out and failure.

Would I recommend working as an OT in Israel?

 

I have had some ask me if I recommend OT as a profession in Israel. So here comes the truth. No, no I would not recommend anyone to become an OT in Israel. You deserve to be treated with respect. You deserve to be paid with respect. No-one should EVER, EVER be paid 390 for a full month working 6 days a week, full school days. There is absolutely no excuse for such treatment. No-one working in a salaried job should ever have to request to be paid.  Neither should they be fired and treated like dirt for having to seek help from an organization to ensure they are paid. Keeping in mind that the organization to help new immigrants informed me that withholding the salary is illegal.

No-one working 6 days a week should have to go and ask their bank manager for a loan and then put up with being told that it is not possible. According to the bank, the place of work has to pay on time and the bank won't help with a loan or overdraft to make up for dishonest places of work. What is the answer? Do NOT work in these facilities. If ALL OTs refuse to work in such conditions the facilities will have to shape up and begin to treat their workers with the respect they rightly deserve.

You deserve to be paid enough to put down a deposit on a home and have stability in your life. You deserve to have fulfilment in your own life, not to be a slave to a system that is corrupt. This includes time to you.

If I were doing my search for a career all over again, one of my questions would most definitely be, what is the earning potential of this career. If I knew over 30 years ago how hard it would be to have anyone understand what my profession is or how hard it is to earn enough to live, I would most definitely put my money into a different profession.

So now you have it out in the open. OT is an incredible profession but there is major work required for it to be recognized enough that OTs can be paid appropriately so that they can live the kind of lifestyle we recommend to our clients. To me, helping a client to improve work conditions while your own work conditions have a negative impact on your health is - hypocritical.

Yes, there is such a notion of working privately, provided the clients pay properly and with respect. I am really tired of the crazy notion that everything is negotiable or that I have to be prepared to offer my services for a minimum wage or as a kindness. I'm very, very sorry! There are expenses involved in working privately and there are expenses involved in offering a top quality service and I have a right to be paid honestly according to what the going rate is. Not only do I have a right but every OT working privately has that same right too. Demanding reduction in fees is totally inappropriate.

It's hard. I'm finding it hard. OT has got into my blood. It's hard to stop thinking as an OT. But it does not provide the kind of income I need to live. I can not keep moving and I simply refuse to be a slave. Aside from that, I am really, really tired of having to constantly explain what OT actually is. For heaven's sake, people, grow up and read up on the profession and start treating health professionals with the respect that they deserve.


Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Sharing and Preparing for 2018


I was watching a video of Oprah Winfrey winning an award where she talks about the power of telling one's story. I have mentioned parts of my story in various places, but perhaps it is time to share more for the simple reason that through writing one gains clarity. In addition, by sharing tools or ideas that I come across, perhaps I can reach my goal of really empowering widows and orphans.

Today I heard about an OT who had ended her life and then sadly heard about a few more. The knowledge made me think about those I have come across who attempted to take their lives and failed or who did actually take their lives. I think about the reasons that I know about. Sometimes the reason is not really known. Other times it can be total desperation that leads to such drastic actions. You'll need to sign up to become a Patron on Patreon in order to find out how these findings have something to do with my creative work.

In the meantime, I can share that I know what it is like to feel desperate and I know what it is like to feel alone. To answer those who ask what role can OT have to play with widows and orphans? Partly to help them to develop the systems they require to thrive. These can be support or financial independence. It can be grieving or making peace with the change in the family structure. It can also be figuring out how to have a meaningful relationship with a significant family member who is no longer in this world.

One area of OT intervention is the therapeutic use of self which means that the therapist is able to make a positive impact on the life of his / her client through sharing who they are and what they have been through or overcome. In an interview that was featured with me on OT Potential, I was asked what motivated me in the early years of my becoming an OT. I'm sorry if it is not the answer that most want to hear, but my answer was the potential to gain or attain financial independence. Having lost my father when I was still at school, I had put myself through university to obtain a degree that I thought would both help others and enable myself to earn a decent salary. I did not expect for the salary to be lower than I had considered it might be or for the added strain of paying off tuition and health expenses from a chronic illness that had developed.

In the years since I qualified, sadly my goal to attain financial independence has not budged much. I still have the same financial struggles. This year I am more determined than ever to change that. It is my goal too, that by researching what type of work can enable me to meet my financial goals and needs that I can help other orphans and widows to do the same as well.

In the video I had watched about Oprah, she had mentioned her mother working as a house cleaner. The comment reminds me of how many have told me here in Israel to give up my profession and just clean houses. I have no idea why anyone would want to limit another. If someone has the ability to obtain a university degree in a profession that is of benefit to others, why squash their abilities.

Even in the last few days I have had the hard struggle with a publication I had paid to publish and advert that I could promote my private practice take the money and not publish the ad. It is hard to know that the publication is linked to an organization that is supposed to help Olim, not crush them. whatever their reason was for doing what they did, the organization has no idea what hard effort went into coming up with the funds to pay for that advert. They do not realize the challenge of altering direction in one's work in order to level up to earn better so as to take care of an aging parent. They don't know the reality of having no family to turn to for help and needing to rely on one's skills not to pay for a holiday or a luxury but for basic survival.

The last few days have been a hard reminder that many out there are not interested in the real needs of others. There are many who lack respect for the essence of who a person is. There are many who will cut down ones goals and dreams with just go and clean houses as their routine instruction.

What if the housecleaning does not earn enough to meet one's financial needs? What if the person needs to earn better? Well, everyone has the right to set the financial goals that are realistic to their life situation. We have freedom of choice and I am quite outspoken against putting someone down by robbing them of their G-d given talents and forcing them into menial jobs.

The minimum wage syndrome is something that in Israel for sure has to change. It has been one of the hardest realities of my move to Israel. So join me in my search for how to earn the kind of income that is life sustaining while still using my skills and talents. For if I can figure out how to get from poor orphan to success, then you can learn along the way and become successful too.


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