Snippets from CASS Disability Services
Harvesting the fruits of labour
It is not easy working in disability services, especially when one has to deal with clients who suffer from incontinence, drooling, and cannot manage their daily care. However, our colleagues, armed with patience and loving hearts, have chosen to spend years after years looking after residents of our group homes. Witnessing residents who could not walk making their first attempt to stand and walk a few steps after training; hearing someone who had never spoken learning to say ‘good morning’; seeing someone who could not write learning to writing his name; the joy of witnessing all these delicate improvements could not be fully described.
While we strive to do our best in every aspect of our daily lives, there are times when we do make mistakes, and we thank those who show their understanding and tolerance. The following story happened on the day one of our residents attended a medical appointment to check on his dialysis treatment. The hospital was not too far from our Group Home, about a fifteen minute drive. The resident had difficulties with mobility and had epilepsy. We had to be extremely careful every time we took the resident for outings, and had to bring along a wheelchair.
The resident’s brother and elderly mother were very concerned about the resident’s condition, and paid regular visits to the Group Home. For them, taking the resident to the medical appointment was a huge task! It was inconvenient for the elderly mother to travel to the hospital on her own. We made special arrangement for her to meet us at the Group Home so that she could go in our car while the brother would meet us at the hospital.
Before we left the Group Home, we had to make sure we had everything ready, making sure we got all the necessary documents, medications and daily records. It was finally time for the appointment. The resident was in fine form, and was able to answer the doctor’s questions briefly. We also talked to the doctor regarding the resident’s conditions in details. At the end of the consultation, the doctor said with appreciation, “The care and service you provide is first class!”
We were back home, and when we were helping the resident out of the car, I heard him said “thank you”! I was shocked. I thought I might have heard something else, so I double checked with the resident and asked, “Are you talking to me?” He said, “Yes, I said thank you!” I felt a sense of warmth flowing through my whole body. After collecting myself, I gave him a hug and said, “I have to thank you too! You have made me so happy! Next time when your mother and brother come to visit, you should also say thank you to them!”
There was another time when the resident’s dialysis machine was not working properly. The tube was blocked up. We immediately called the doctor who suggested we took the resident to the hospital. We then called the ambulance and the resident’s family members at the same time. While waiting for the ambulance, we quickly made copies of the daily records and documents relating to the resident’s conditions so that the hospital had update information on the resident’s conditions. We were later told that the resident had to be admitted to the hospital for a few days while waiting for the dialysis machine to be fixed.
We thought the hospital admission was a good opportunity for other residents to learn about caring for one another. We bought a card, explained the situation to all the residents, and suggested to each of them to sign the card to show their care and concern. The residents were like family members to one another. If someone was not at ‘home’, the others would normally ask his/her whereabouts and conditions. When I visited the resident in hospital the following day, I brought the card and told him everyone at the group home was concerned about him and wished him speedy recovery. He had tears in his eyes, showing understanding of what I had said. When I was leaving, he asked me to visit him again the next day, and I said, “Of course!”
There are things and words which should be a normal part of our daily lives. Yet, often times many people are too busy, forgetting to say ‘thank you’ to those around them; forgetting to observe small changes happening to their loved ones around them; forgetting to show care and sympathy to those who need it. Our Group Home residents may not be as bright as others; they may not be able to articulate as well as others; and they may suffer from incontinence or epilepsy or other illnesses. Yet, they are more ready to show their appreciation and understanding. Amidst our frantic daily lives, we enable our residents to experience respect and tolerance. At the same time, their positive response and appreciation has given us the fuel to go the extra mile. We have enjoyed the happiness and bonding with our residents season after season.