For the past few weeks, we have been discussing employment for individuals with developmental disabilities. We have highlighted the first step in the customized employment process – Discovery and discussed how job sampling can help individuals discover what they are good at. We also shared the employment journeys of Betty, Christopher, and Quentices, providing an overview of how the process works. Today, we look at the third phase of the employment process – Job Coaching.
Ruth, 56, is one of our participants undergoing job coaching. Ruth had prior work experience working in a restaurant, loves to cook, and loves meeting new people. She shared her interested in working in a restaurant with her Employment Specialist, but said she wanted to pick which one she wanted to work at.
Ruth choose McDonalds and McDonalds chose Ruth. She began her employment with McDonalds in April 2015 as a fry operator. Within the first month, she was given additional duties and now works as a team leader. Ruth’s duties include baking apple pies, making the tea, and cleaning the lobby and parking lot. She even trains new employees on how to use the fryer. Next, Ruth says she wants to learn how to use the grill.
Ruth has a great attitude and is very dependable. She arrives on time and when she is not busy, Ruth assists the other workers with whatever they need. The other team members love Ruth and say she “makes their day with her smile and great attitude.” Ruth’s manager, Karen, agrees Ruth is a great worker.
When Ruth was hired at McDonalds, her Employment Specialist, Latrecia, attended orientation and participated in the training with Ruth so she would have a complete understanding of what the job entailed and what was expected of Ruth. This is just one of many job duties the Employment Specialist does to assist the participants in maintaining employment. The Employment Specialists learn the job duties so they can teach and train the participant as well as work with the manager and staff to educate them about the participant and make recommendations regarding accommodations that would aid in successful employment.
For example, Ruth is very assertive and she will persistently ask questions when she needs to know if she is doing something right or if she needs help. Ruth may not understand if the timing is right or not to ask these questions. Ruth may ask her coworker when they are busy making a sandwich or doing another task. This can become frustrating for some. So, Latrecia, talked to the crew members and the manager in advance to suggest positive ways to communicate with Ruth during those situations. Latrecia also worked with Ruth to practice observing her surroundings to notice when it is the best time to ask questions and to whom she should redirect questions if someone is not available.
When Ruth is not working, she goes to church, cooks, cleans and does cross word puzzles.
The job coaching phase can be more intense in the first months of a new position and eventually tapers off to occasional check-ins as the participants grows in independence and gains skills. If conflicts arise, the Employment Specialist is on-hand to help facilitate successful outcomes.
On-going job coaching is billed at $25 per hour. We are raising funds to help offset the costs of private-pay employment services. A gift of $25 would help Ruth and her fellow participants get the on-the-job coaching they need for continued success on the job.