Flash back to over a year ago in the life of Brad and his daily life at Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC). Brad’s life consisted of going once a week to physical, occupational and speech therapy, “participation” in recreational modules, and hanging out in the cottage where he lived. According to Wes Gaynor, Cottage Program Director, Brad was bored. Brad enjoyed riding the Amtryke, a three-wheeled cycle for adults during physical therapy but it was brief. His “participation” in recreation activities reflected apathy on his part while other residents enjoyed them. When he was not in therapy or at modules, Brad spent the balance of his days hanging around the Cottage, time in which his pent up energy would get the best of him. The staff knew they needed to offer Brad something more to do that he’d enjoy.
With sixteen individuals in each of the four cottages which have limited transportation (each cottage has one van) and limited staffing, ensuring each person has an active full life can be a challenging task for WFC staff. Then there is the individual, each unique with different things important to him or her. Since he was non-verbal, Brad’s demeanor expressed his dissatisfaction with the lack of activity through certain behaviors. For example, when he is frustrated or bored, Brad would endlessly pace to show his displeasure or “self-stimulate” by putting his hand in his mouth. Cottage staff realized Brad was feeling restless with pent up energy that had no outlet for release. Brad wanted, needed to do something or go somewhere but had no means in which to do so. Additionally, being non-verbal left Brad without a way to communicate what his frustration is other than through these behavioral demonstrations.Realizing he was not happy, Wes, then the Assistant Program Director, and a group of staff members held a team meeting to discuss Brad’s situation, and a solution that would support Brad “getting a life.” The goal and hope: help alleviate Brad’s frustrations, and find a way to engage Brad in community life. Little would the staff members know how ahead of the pending WFC culture shift they were in greater person-centered service. Staff members knew they needed to offer Brad a better quality of life, and in doing so, had no idea their efforts would over time significantly change Brad’s life in such a “night and day” way.
Like most success stories, the path on this journey for Brad and his WFC staff support was not always the smoothest and straightest course. Challenges popped up from the beginning: everything from staffing to transportation resources. Frustrations mounted not only for Brad, but also for the staff as they began to encounter glitches in helping Brad “get a life.” Fortunately, our committed WFC staff had the wherewithal to be honest with each other when they were getting in their own way, as well as recognize they were overlooking some obvious solutions to the challenges they faced. Committed in their support of Brad, they navigated their way through the challenges and stayed the course in their efforts to empower Brad in his life.And so, their winding journey began.
In the Next Blog Entry: Brad's Big Ride - ". . . a member of the Owensboro Bicycling Club inviting Brad to join their group on their next ride. . ."
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