From January of this year, every Wednesday my class has been placed in different locations in the Downtown East Side to do our field study practice. We switch every 6-8 weeks depending on whether it is with Portland Hotel Society (PHS) or Lookout. I have found that the two organizations are very different from one another. PHS is very spread out in different single room occupancy (SRO) hotels downtown, whereas Lookout only has a few. They also use a different system to keep track of clients. Personally, I feel the system used with PHS is much easier to understand. I have been to many different locations so far, each much, much different from the previous. Each placement has a different “flow” to it. Some more busy, others can be quiet and you will only see clients every so often.
My first site visit was with PHS. I was shown around the DTES and the many different locations that I may be visiting. If you didn’t know this (I certainly didn’t) PHS has a bank for people living in the DTES who do not have the same resources that we do, and they also have a clinic that they run. I have seen on my site visits that some places are very client involved, while some are not as much. Some of the host sites have staff that accompany clients to appointments, out for coffee, and just have simple conversation with them, which at the time may be a good thing for the client. That person may not have even spoken to someone in days…it is nice to simply ask someone how they are doing! It might just give them the extra lift that they needed that day.
I really respect the staff who go above and beyond for their clients because while they may feel that the whole world is crumbling around them, there is a friendly face to come home to at the end of the day. Many of the staff that I have worked with seemed to be completely busy! There is always something to be done and there is always someone who needs help and support. I have also seen the other side. I have seen places where there less work with the clients.
I have seen great success along with tragedy. You have your good days along with the bad. I feel that when you come into this profession as said time and time again; you must grow a thick skin. You gotta have the duck feathers; this means that the things that you see, feel, and struggle through daily must be left behind at the work place. You have to try not to let it affect your home life. It is much harder for some than others to leave the bad days behind, but it is something that is necessary so that at the end of the day you do not burn out. Over and over again we are told about something called SELF CARE. It is important to take care of yourself so that you are able to help others.