And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair. ~ Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, November 16, 2008


I think I have mentioned about a million times that I work with DD adults at Job #1. Last night, I had a situation arise with a staff that I just couldn't believe really happened.

We have one client at our house that doesn't really "fit" with the other guys. Three of our guys are very dependent on staff for their every day needs, and this Client #4 is just the opposite. He is very independent and needs very little intervention in his daily activities.

Anyway, this staff had been doing one-to-one time with this particular client in a manner that another staff questioned. Since I am senior staff, they both came to me for a decision on who was right on the issue. I could see both sides of their story, and tried to explain each staff's position to the other, suggesting to the staff in question that they talk to Big Boss Lady about what she wanted. During our discussion, I mentioned that a concern I had was that (since he is verbal and much more independent) this particular client was being treated as if he was better than the other three.

The staff in question actually looked at me and said "But he is!"

My jaw hit the floor. Almost literally.

I have seen that quite a few of the staff are treating our new client differently than the other three, and this confirmed my worst fears.

It took me about .5 seconds to recover from my shock, and I let the staff in question have it. To my surprise, there were three staff there all arguing the point that since this particular client is better socially adapted, that makes his needs more important than the others'.

This is why I still work as a grunt in direct care. Seriously. .

The fact that THREE of our new staff honestly believe that just because someone is able to verbalise their needs and desires to you they are somehow more worthy just blows my mind. What ever happened to sticking up for those who really NEED our advocacy?! Just because this guy can play a game with you, and likes to tease and laugh, he is more important than the guys who can't tell you if they are sick or lonely or angry?! If my clients were my family members, and I found out that their caregivers thought that way, I would be terrified for their well~being. And I would be comforted to know that there was at least ONE staff taking care of my loved one who didn't think they were somehow less important than everyone else.

Ooh, just thinking about it now makes my blood boil.

We are having a staff meeting this coming Thursday, and you can bet whatever you hold most dear that I will be bringing up this incident.

It will not be pretty.


Finding Pam... said...

Barefoot, what is DD? I am trying to figure out what kind of work you do so I can better respond. It does appear that you care very much about your clients and that you are very caring. Please tell me more...

barefoot gardener said...

Hey, Pam. Sorry, I forget that not everyone knows that term.

It means Developmentally Disabled. It is one of the "PC" terms for conditions resulting in "mental retardation". I hate that term, but it is the most universally understood. I wish I didn't need to even use a term at all to describe the guys I work with, because each is such an individual.

Jen said...

OMG, that is so awful. I have a daughter that is bipolar, that at times is very severe and medication resistant. A few years ago and at the onset of her illness, she was hospitalized in long term psychiatric hospitals for 2 years, 3 months. It took me a year and 3 months and 7 facilities later before I found one that could a.) keep her safe , b.) would treat her like a human being with an illness, rather than get angry at her as if she had control of her actons and c.) had the ability to help her learn how to cope with her disease.
The key for the last place was the staff. It makes such a difference in a disabled person's life when the staff understands their illness/disease/disorder/disability/etc and works with them to have the best life possible, rather than seeing the illness/disease/disorder/disability as what and who the person is.
Sorry, this is a subject I can rant on.

barefoot gardener said...

My Step-dtr is also diagnosed as bipolar, and refused treatment for a long time. I am so sorry you have had to go through all that with your dtr. I think bipolar is one of the hardest things to deal with. It is so unpredictable! You never know from moment to moment how the person in question is going to react to life, what that day is going to be like.

I am so glad you finally found a place that could help her. I will be thinking of y'all....

Kati said...

good grief!!!! I hope the staff meeting goes well, tomorrow, and that these coworkers are set straight as to their assumption that less ability means less importance. If they can't see that, they CERTAINLY shouldn't be in your line of work! Hope your Boss Lady agrees with you, and that the new staff gets their heads out of their collective @$$es.