Member Highlight: Meet Heather Avery

She is a developmental support worker at New Leaf Living and Learning. They care for people who suffer from both a developmental disability and a mental health issue.

“We look after the clients. We cook their meals, look after the house, make their beds, do some housework, dispense their medications, and take them out on events,” Heather said. "We take them out to theaters, live concerts, dinner, and other fun activities outside their home.”

“There is also a day program on New Leaf property where they can relax and have fun. It has a woodshop, a chicken coup, a pool, expressive arts, a computer and even a lunch café. One of our clients loves to spend time on the computer looking at maps. It’s amazing how much he knows about the world,” she added.

The key challenge with these clients is making sure they behave themselves when they are out in public or in their own home. If they do get angry, it’s Heather’s job to find out what is bothering them.

“If our clients get angry or aggressive, it’s usually because they are non-verbal. They don’t know how to tell us what’s bothering them. That’s when we have to step in and find out what’s wrong, which can be a challenge.”

Heather has seen her clients watch their self-esteem grow. There was one client who was afraid to travel anywhere. Anytime the group travelled somewhere, she would never leave the car. But today, she is very comfortable travelling by car, by train or even a plane.

As we highlight the contribution of DSWs to our healthcare system this week, remember the DSWs who look after people suffering from significant behavioral problems that require high levels of care and attention. They are our angels looking after society’s most vulnerable.




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