My first day as manager of a Tiffin, Ohio group home, I trained to administer meals to a resident with a feeding tube, followed by me training other staff. I liked the four men who lived at the home, and knew two of them from when I worked at the local institution. I worked 24-hour shifts, 3pm to 3pm, often three in a row. It simplified staffing the overnight hours, but challenged me, mentally and physically. Sleeping well at the group home rarely happened. I scrambled to get up to speed on preferences, goals, routines, behavior plans, staff scheduling, meal planning, grocery shopping, outings, medications, paperwork, and new state requirements. On my days off, I was on call.
The day-to-day responsibility for the health and welfare of four men was daunting.
The men attended the county workshop for adults with developmental disabilities on weekdays. Ideally, that time would be used for administrative planning and paperwork. Instead, since the residents had multiple health issues, weekdays often included taking one of them to a doctor’s appointment. I learned complicated medication regimens, as well as scheduling regular appointments, ordering refills, and making sure all staff documented every small thing, every day, in the correct way. I often drove to the group home on my days off for at least a few hours, just to keep up.
My agency's new quality control supervisor visited one weekday morning after the men boarded the workshop bus; she had been the manager before me of the same home. She pointed out missing papers in the resident binders, which I was aware of. I regret not being more assertive. I wish I’d spoken up and showed her my long to-do list that included the missing items. Papers she neglected to obtain as the previous manager.
Instead, I stewed.
Next, my agency’s director made a counterproductive decision about a resident’s behavior plan by caving in to pressure from a resident’s family. I typed up evidence to support a better approach, to avoid dependence on a walker he didn’t need. I met with the director to plead his case, to no avail.
Later that day, the same resident threw a tantrum near midnight. Following the new behavior plan, I had to encourage him to use the walker by his bed on the way to the bathroom. He didn’t need one. The ill-advised plan guaranteed more acting out, increased dependency, and needless frustration all around. When his loud yelling finally ended, I poked my head into the other bedrooms to reassure and quietly tell the other residents everything was okay.
Good intentions, bad outcome.
The youngest resident thought my intrusion meant it was time to get up, so he jumped out of bed and started his morning routine. My attempts to explain and redirect irritated him. Nonverbal, he insisted on changing clothes and sat at the kitchen table in the dark. I tried to reason with him, saying it wasn’t time for breakfast. Agitated, he tried to tip over the table and would have succeeded, except the home had an unusually huge and heavy one.
When he calmed down a bit, I brought him a bowl of his favorite cereal with milk. He finished and sat in his rocking chair in the living room, still angry. I kept him company while I wrote out the required incident reports.
Next: A Difficult Decision!
8/22/2018 12:52:22 pm
You learned a valuable lesson, did you? You can't throw off MR people's schedules, because they don't think like we do.
8/22/2018 10:21:47 pm
Some of the adults with developmental disabilities I worked with also had mental health issues, like compulsive behavior. (You might not have heard that “MR” is considered a derogatory term nowadays?) But I’m sure we agree that all of us have more similarities than differences!
8/23/2018 10:00:39 am
I agree that all of us have more similarities than differences. When we stop to admit it, a lot of things are on a continuum, especially when it comes to mental health issues, or certain behaviors or preferences.
8/27/2018 09:45:07 am
No, I didn't know MR's considered not PC, thanks. And, I agree we are more similar than different.
8/27/2018 12:47:39 pm
No worries, Jason! Politically correct language is debatable. It's interesting to me how many with a disability choose to identify themselves with terms like quad and para -- not "person first" language. I believe that how we treat others is more important!
11/11/2018 12:30:58 am
I love giveaways. I am not a freeloader. I just think if anyone takes time to be this thoughtful, it says a lot about that person. I know it can be as simple as a biscuit or shirt but if it's something personalized then that would be way better. Nobody needs to do this like it's an obligation so if anyone does, it's all either about pristine love or concern or maybe they wanted something or have a motive. Atleast they acknowledge that it should come with a cost.
8/23/2018 08:38:36 am
Cindy, I want you to know that I am following you faithfully (though not always timely). But generally when I press the "like" button the number does not change (sometimes it does). Is there a trick? Anyway, I love your story and how you write it. Just wonderful.
8/26/2018 02:41:16 pm
Thank you, Paula! I noticed the same thing with the Like button. If I click it twice, it usually works. I think it depends on the device you're on, too, and whether or not the device thinks you're signed in to Facebook.
8/23/2018 09:01:30 am
What an awful situation, Cindy! My heart goes out to those gentlemen and also to you - trying so hard to help them and do your job at the same time. Very, very challenging. Glad you are on to a better life now!
8/26/2018 02:47:32 pm
Thanks, Jill! It is always a challenge to work in a group home, but often because of external factors, more than the individuals who live there.
8/23/2018 10:04:53 am
What a gift you gave to these residents and to us in sharing the details of such a complex position. So many important issues are raised in these posts that would be so instructive for discussions in social work classes or in any human service training. Thank you.
8/26/2018 03:00:53 pm
Yes. Direct care jobs would be easier with better support and training. They have high turnover rates for good reasons, especially inadequate funding that leads to under-staffing. Wouldn't it be wonderful if our country valued taking care of people more than making money!
8/23/2018 01:46:17 pm
This type of work is difficult and, sadly, often unrewarding, aside from self satisfaction. My admiration to all of who do or have done this.
8/26/2018 03:04:58 pm
Thank you, George! Yes, it's frustrating when our best efforts aren't enough. Caregiving in all forms is such an important job!
8/26/2018 03:10:06 pm
I think it's a challenge to continue to keep caring in a generally uncaring world. Connections are important! Thanks, Ruth!
9/21/2019 03:21:03 am
This is exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for sharing this great article! Coming game game sims 4 cheats on Playstation 4 and Mac
8/24/2020 12:33:05 am
They have some special talent as well. Some of these Bangalore Escorts Girls are excellent dancers, and some can sing well. They are good human being with some great human qualities.
Leave a Reply.
Sign up for my Just Keep Swimming Newsletter by typing your email address in the box. Thanks!