Friday, February 1, 2013

New Plan: Adapt. Improvise. Overcome.

Wendell Foster's Campus (WFC) Cottage staff were letting Brad down and they knew it.

Over the last few months, Brad was not regularly attending swim classes at a local health facility, or going out for bike rides outside of physical therapy (PT).  Both these activities Brad enjoyed, and when Brad was happy, he was less frustrated and slept better at night. Van availability challenged WFC staff’s efforts to get Brad to his swim class. Cottage staff also realized they did not have a plan in place to execute “Operation: Brad Gets a Life.”  Wes Gaynor, Cottage program director, explains they were unintentionally, and ironically, limiting Brad, and had to answer the question now before them:  “What are we going to do about it?”  Through this honest and insightful assessment, Cottage staff developed a game plan and made some changes in how to implement it.

First issue to address was staffing.  They realized scheduling different staff to go with Brad to the Healthpark not only stressed him out, but it was stressing the staff too!  They realized what is important to Brad is consistency; therefore, sending different staff to accompany Brad when he went to the Healthpark became counterproductive.  Management staff decided moving forward to commit one Direct Support Professional (DSP) to accompany Brad each Tuesday and Thursday morning to swim class, thus ensuring consistency during his trips to the Healthpark.  They hoped it would improve Brad’s cooperation and interest in swimming.
The second issue was transportation. Unfortunately, the reality of their situation was they only have one van.  Thinking outside the box, Cottage staff explored the use of public transportation.  They set aside budget money to cover the cost of bus passes for both Brad and his DSP for travel to and from the Healthpark twice a week.  Additionally, with a bus stop only one block from Campus, and our bus system’s ability to accommodate those with disabilities, this solution was doable.  Moreover, they learned that Brad actually enjoyed riding the bus, another plus in providing him a change of scenery and involvement within the community!

Finally, the greatest obstacle to overcome was making Brad’s swim classes a schedule priority. Staff scheduled them onto the Cottage’s weekly calendar as well as his bike rides that had gone to the wayside.  For both activities, Brad would have the same DSP work with him.
With a new plan in place, priorities set, and commitment renewed, WFC staff moved forward to offer Brad meaningful activities by eliminating potential obstacles of unexpected transportation problems and staffing issues.   Through this process, Cottage staff learned an important lesson:  no matter how you have always done something, obstacles (even organizational/bureaucratic) can be adapted, improvised and/or overcame within compliance with a little creative thought and effort.  Of course, the individuals we serve at Wendell Foster’s Campus know this fact the best; sometimes and ironically, those of us who serve to support them in overcoming their obstacles do not always remember that for ourselves.  What’s the saying about the trees and the forest . . . . . ? 

As for Brad, he would enjoy one of the most active summers he has had in a long time; and Cottage staff would witness an amazing transformation in Brad.
In the Next Blog Entry:  A Fish Called Brad - ". . surprisingly immerses his entire face into the water for approximately three or four seconds before coming back up for air!"

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