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A few days ago, I received an email from a Mandt Instructor that included a picture of a person served with the question “What makes you happy?” written across the top of it. The individual’s response to this question is “I’m happy when my staff is happy because then I have a good day.”

The nature of the work caregivers do in our service settings often gives them more power in the lives of people served than they realize. Caregivers typically have the ability to grant or limit access to preferred activities and requests, oversee meals and access to snacks, and often set the schedule and plan the activities for people served. In reality, they control much of what happens in the lives of the people in their care, and with this power comes great responsibility!

The happiness and quality of life for people in our care should not be dependent on whether or not a particular caregiver is having a good or bad day, but it is so easy for this to happen. From the caregiver refusing requests simply because they don’t feel like facilitating or accompanying the individual to denying access to items or activities because the caregiver doesn’t think the person deserves it for some reason. These issues are real and have a significant effect on the happiness of people served.

Certainly, life at times can cause us all to have bad days. Let’s strive to have enough awareness and self-management to not allow how we may be feeling to undermine the happiness, quality of life, and in turn, the success of the people served in our programs.

Doug ZehrVogt, Mandt System Faculty

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