“Mycare supported me not only with finding a support person for my travels but also through its online payment system which made paying for my support easy while abroad,” says Tegan Morris.
Tegan Morris (30), asked Mycare to help her find a support worker to complete her crew of three to travel to the United States.
We connected Tegan with Madi and they hit it off immediately. “When hiring people I don’t look for skills or qualifications; for me it is more about the type of person they are and the connection we have. I don’t tend to hire people with previous experience. It helps but is not a requirement,” says Tegan.
Tegan’s interview questions are rather different from what you would ordinarily expect, which is reflective of her approach. “I ask questions like: What is your favourite movie? What are your hobbies?”
Building connections and finding the right type of person to enable Tegan to live life on her own terms is what drives her hiring decisions. This applies to her normal daily supporters, as well as for travel.
“The at-home work suits students because I am looking for more people to do fewer hours rather than fewer people to do more hours,” explains Tegan.
Hiring workers for overseas travel
When hiring workers to go overseas, Tegan says, “My shifts work differently as I want to be able to give my personal assistants enough time off to explore and experience the places we are visiting.”
Tegan provides her workers with a written guideline of expectations. “It’s important to be very clear about who pays for what and when, to avoid any confusion,” she explains.
Tegan’s guideline covers all of the key responsibilities as well as how the shifts work when they are away and the amount of time that each support person has off. This enables all parties to plan their activities and days.
“If there was something that one of them wanted to do or see while we were away and I didn’t want to go to the same show or activity, they would swap shifts with one another.
"Everyone got on well,” says Tegan, “so there were no issues.”
Travelling in the US
Travel is an important part of Tegan’s life and “has a lot to do with my confidence and wellbeing,” she says
California suits Tegan’s condition so it was a great travel option. The dry warmth helps her breathing, which can become more laboured in a humid climate. So having an opportunity to escape the NZ winter seemed ideal for her health and gave Tegan an opportunity to connect in person with members of an online support group.
In New Zealand there aren’t many people living with Tegan’s condition, so she had joined an online group for members with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy. In California she met mainly with families that had young children with the same condition. “It was nice to have time to focus on specific issues and problem-solve,” says Tegan.
The families were interested in finding out what they could expect for their child and how their child’s disability might impact on their ability to make friends.
“It wasn’t about inspiring them but rather just providing a personal insight on how I have dealt with certain issues, and at times give some reassurance,” says Tegan. “It is also about helping someone with similar issues to feel less isolated and provide them with a frame of reference and personal experience.”
Just watching the way Tegan interacted with kids and seeing how she handled questions and comments helped the parents to see things from a different perspective. “It’s always interesting what kids say, such as when a little one pointed at me and said, ‘is that a robot?’,” says Tegan. Having the confidence to talk and joke about her impairment seemed to reassure the parents about what life will hold for their children.
Travelling in America was eye-opening, not just because of the diversity of the countryside but also in terms of being a disabled person. “It was a different experience being a disabled person in America than in New Zealand,” Tegan says. “It wasn’t negative, just different. I think because we are a smaller country people tend to meet people with disabilities more often, whereas in the USA people didn’t seem to have had this experience.” Hopefully Tegan’s interactions will have left a lasting impression.
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