On-the-job coaching

posted in: Blog 0

After this month’s coaching session for the Ruach home care assistants I asked for their feedback. On behalf of the group I was able to thank Sara, our coach, and told her the session had not been good , it had been simply excellent!! Our group begged her to give them some more coaching soon.

Every month we spend part of a day from 8 till 10 am on a particular theme which is either chosen by the home care assistants themselves, or proposed by me based on my observation of issues in the community that would benefit from stronger support or deeper understanding. Generally I lead these sessions, but I bear in mind the desire to have someone from our team prepare for and lead a session.

All the home care assistants are well-intentioned but they started working for Ruach without previous experience in working with persons with intellectual limitations. Courses in this discipline do not exist in Nicaragua. I teach the basics to new staff member in their first week here, and keep that up through regular coaching in their daily work after that, hoping that this will give the new staff member a feel for the work in the community home. Daily meetings at the start of the working day, set up to work in a coordinated way and to re-direct the work when needed, also help us to learn more about the needs of our core members and how we can address those needs. Of course it also promotes our team spirit.

Last September we were able to employ an external evaluator, paid for through extra funding from Vivir Juntos. One of her tasks was to assess which kind of training and support had been most useful in educating and empowering our staff. Our aim is to use this assessment to develop a script in case we are called upon to open a second community home, as our current home is filled to capacity. We want to document what we have learned from starting our current home and training its staff. There is no point in re-inventing the wheel.

I had asked Sara to lead today’s coaching session. She works with us as a volunteer once a week to give a massage to Maria Helena and Daniel who both enjoy that a lot. Sara is a Nicaraguan who has lived in the USA for many years and has familiarized herself with reiki, alternative medicine and massage. The theme for Sara’s session was: ‘How to optimally utilize your energy’ Sara was quite nervous because concepts such as ´chakras´ and ‘medians’ and the connection between health and energy, and between illness and energy blocks etc. are still quite unknown in Nicaragua. People tend to believe that it does not correspond to what it says in the Bible; or it is very far removed from people’s own experiences. Although it is a wisdom transmitted through the centuries, it has been in another faith tradition. No one in our team had heard about ‘chakras’, but all were fascinated and open-minded, and enthusiastically joined in with exercises designed to make people feel their own energy flow, to activate the meridians or to experience that someone else’s energy can get you off-balance, if you allow this.

A special experience: Miguel

It was special that Miguel, one of our core members who usually sits outside when there is no programme, started joining in with the exercises through his arm movements. When I urged him to become part of our circle, he immediately responded and insisted he’d stay there till the end. We are aware that our house mates (just like anyone else who is not very ‘verbal’) are sensitive and very tuned-in to what radiates from people around them. Thank you Miguel for demonstrating just that! It also emphasized the fact that every person contributes to the atmosphere in our community home, for better or worse, through the energy that each of us emanate. Today’s theme was so important that we will follow it up in the new year, with Sara as our leader!

Sara en clase