I confess to a few guilty pleasures. I watch back-to-back episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress” and Martha Bakes. I don’t do it often. I know they are unrelated subjects but one show is hilarious (women try on dresses, some are dreadful and their sidekicks debate what looks good) and the other is educational (Martha demonstrates complex baking techniques). I do not like to be interrupted when I watch these shows. If I am watching them, it’s too relax and not to multi-task. It made me wonder about these two stories.
I had dinner with a colleague last week. She told me a story about someone she supports. The team was discussing this man’s behavior and advocating medication. Apparently, while he was watching TV, a direct support staff member brought him a basket of laundry to fold. He said, “Sure, when I finish watching this program.” The direct care worker persisted that he should fold immediately. He became upset, went to his room and created some havoc. That behavior caused the team to think that medication would help.
I could tell almost the same story. Year ago when I was managing supports to clients in licensed semi-independent living, I had meeting with the Director of Safety. This one client who shared an apartment with another guy would not participate in the fire drills. They tried several times, and he consistently refused. If he did not evacuate in 2.5 minutes, he would need to have 24/7 staff, which would mean he would have to move. I told my director that I wanted to meet him. He agreed to meet me, so I went to his apartment and asked him why he would not evacuate during the drills. He said that his staff wanted him to get up while he was watching his favorite TV show, and that he didn’t want to do that. I asked him if he would participate if the drill was not during the show and he said yes. So I told the staff to wait until the next day and to avoid the hour of the show, and he did great.
I can’t imagine my husband walking in while a bride tries on dresses and tells me he is going to hold a fire drill. He is polite-if he needs something, he simply says, “When you are done, I need help.”
So why would anyone expect something different?
Positive approaches means respecting other peoples’ interests. It means putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. It means caring what someone else thinks. It means asking questions about their needs and wants and being mindful of yours. It means having some patience. I was not at KenCrest when Positive Approaches was being heralded as the way to be in relationship with the people we support, but I was thrilled to hear that KenCrest was leading us into this conversation. We need to keep is strong as we move through the next evolution of supports. Positive approaches is not a fad, it is a way to live.