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!
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