Weekend Respite and Weekend Shifts – Change in Policy
There has been a recent change in policy for caregivers which has been put in place to provide the best opportunity for weekend respite for families. Our former policy required every caregiver to serve a mandatory three weekend shifts per month – this has now been changed to six mandatory weekend shifts per month. We recently were forced to cancel a whole weekend at the Respite House because we did not have all of the shifts covered. This was heart-breaking for the four young people who would have attended, and their families who were looking forward to a full weekend of respite.
The Benefit of the Six Weekend Shifts Plan for Caregivers
Caregivers, you have the power to schedule your own shifts, giving you all of the control you need to coordinate your schedule around important events in your life. Additionally, when you take the six weekend shifts, you may be learning about how to care for more participants, making you a better all-around care provider.
The Benefit of the Six Weekend Shifts Plan for Families
By having more caregivers trained for your loved one, in your home, or at the Weekend Respite House means you have a deeper bench of caregivers available to tap should you have the need for more coverage. The Weekend Respite House is very important to many families, and this policy was designed to make sure that we won’t have to say no to any family seeking respite.
Advice to Caregivers on Scheduling
You should know that we schedule a month in advance. Our best advice to caregivers is to be proactive about your scheduling by looking at least six to eight weeks in advance. By doing this, you will have the best shot at getting the weekend shifts you want and still be able to attend important events in your life. Our Scheduler, Molly Fultz, can be a great help to you, but she can’t help you sort out your scheduling conflicts if you don’t respond to her calls, emails, or texts.
Community Immersion Activities at Weekend Respite House
In the past few months we have worked harder to prioritize opportunities for our Weekend Respite House guests to get out and about in the community. Sometimes this takes a bit more preparation and even a bit of resourcefulness. This usually relates to where we might be going, transportation issues and in some cases finding locations which would meet the needs/interests of all of our guests. (Sometimes with the right staffing ratio we can divide and conquer and make sure that our guests get to have an experience targeted to their ability level.)
Special challenges related to unexpected behaviors during community immersion activites are not unlike what a parent might experience when taking his or her child to the grocery store. Somehow they know when you, as the parent or responsible party, are vulnerable to public displays of misbehavior. In the case of our guests at Weekend Respite House, we know that many times their behaviors are rooted in some discomfort related to a break in a predictable routine. The good news is that with our training and the proper mindset we successfully navigate most of these potentially difficult situations.
Managing Behaviors During Community Immersion Activities
Here is our best advice on managing a public (or private) behavioral situation:
1. Be vigilant for early cues that there might be some discomfort, frustration or confusion brewing.
2. When faced with a difficult behavior make a conscious effort to take a few deep breaths and use a calm and clear response in a soft, but firm, voice.
3. Make sure you are using compassion to understand the cause of the discomfort.
4. Refrain from confronting and/or arguing with a distressed person, instead creatively and cheerfully redirect attention to something which will generate more acceptable behavior.
During a recent visit to the Impression Five Museum we had a chance to use our own advice on managing behaviors during a community immersion. One of our guests was totally enthralled with the fact that there was a group of children having a birthday party at the museum. It was clear that our guy was not going to be easily diverted from “crashing” this party. Because we maintained our calm the situation did not escalate and the folks from the birthday party were gracious enough to share a shiny balloon and soda.