Friday, August 16, 2013

The Big Move

One hurdle after another, he overcame.  Through every hoop, he jumped.  Through the grief of mom’s unexpected death, he moved.  Joey plowed ahead, keeping his eye on the target:  independent living in a Supports for Community Living (SCL) house on Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC). Every delay moving forward Joey addressed and conquered.  Joey persevered through it all, and the day he waited and worked for finally arrived.  His dream finally came true! Joey’s Independence Day happened on May 14, 2012!

Joey’s new address was the SCL house fondly known as “The Bachelor’s Pad” where his new housemates, Brandon and Roger, welcomed him.  Joey was so stoked he could hardly contain himself.  I go over to “The Pad” where Joey and his boxes of personal belongings had arrived.  The Direct Support Professionals (DSP) change shifts at 3 p.m. so Misty comes in to report for duty.  Joey greets her with his flirtatious coolness, “Hey girl, how ya doing, whassup!” Everyone laughs and Joey eats it up.  I ask how he is feeling about his big move, and Joey bursts in response, “Awesome!  I’ve waited for this for a long time. I’m super pumped up and excited. Me and Brandon are gonna be looking at all the girls!”  Brandon, who’s with us in the kitchen, chokes up laughing.
Joey, the girl-chasing twenty-something-year-old charmer and flirt that he is, practices his “pickup magic” on his DSP. “Misty, I love you with all my heart!”  Misty laughs as she goes about her business of the shift-change paperwork.  Joey, a rabid Adam Sandler fan, says, “I couldn’t be more happier than I am right now” and breaks out into singing Sandler’s “The Hanukah Song.”  Misty joins in with him and the two of them sing their hearts out as Brandon smiles in amusement.  Once the musical number is over, Joey tells me he had a lot of fear about not getting into SCL. He wanted it so bad and he did not want to mess it up.  We take a few photos of Joey in his new place, then with his new housemates on the front porch.  I leave him with Brandon to do whatever young twenty-something-year-old men do in bachelor pads. 

Fast forward to May 2013.  It has been over a year since Joey’s mom died, and he tells me, “I still miss her.”  He tried working but decided he did not like the job.  He made a few “horror” videos with the help of WFC’s Western Kentucky Assistive Technology Center staff, and has even done a little dating.  Joey enjoys more freedom to make his own choices, such as staying up late at night to watch movies or to participate in scheduled activities or not.  He still gets up early in the morning because other SCL residents get up and go to work, or to a day program, to volunteer, to run house errands, and/or ro social activities.  Joey doesn't like that he cannot stay at the house by himself all day when everyone else was gone, primarily because of safety and personal care concerns.  Efforts were made to give Joey this opportunity but with a DSP present, leaving this twenty-one-year-old feeling like he was “babysat.”  Despite these disappointments, Joey enjoys his freedom to roam the Campus visiting former Cottage C peeps and administrative staff.  He likes hanging out with his SCL friends, going out to eat, and shopping at Wal-Mart where, he adds with a twinkle in his eye, he likes to flirt with the girls.  Oh, he does get to sleep late on the weekends.
At a recent annual plan of care meeting this past June, Joey reiterated his desire to be more independent, wanting to stay home by himself whenever he wanted without DSP supervision. Recognizing how important it is to Joey to live life like that of other young men his age, SCL staff worked out a plan that provides him the opportunity to stay home whenever he wants.  To ensure he gets his personal needs met and for his safety, Joey agrees to check in with another on–site SCL DSP every thirty minutes, to let him or her know he is okay and/or if he needs anything. At this writing, Joey has never been happier since arriving to WFC.  He enjoys hanging out at the Bachelor’s Pad watching his movies, playing on the computer, and comes and goes whenever he pleases.  Joey never gave up on what he wanted, and accomplished his goal of feeling truly independent, on his own!

Many thanks to everyone at Wendell Foster’s Campus, and especially to Joey, for helping us share this inspirational story of perseverance.
In the Next Blog Entry: TBA

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Friday, August 9, 2013

A Voice of Choice!

Joey was on a mission for greater independence.  Fully aware of the state’s bureaucratic hoops, he was willing to jump through them with support from Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC) staff.  One major and unexpected hurdle took everyone by surprise.  This hurdle threatened another thing that was important to Joey:  having the case manager of his choice.

You know how it is when you want something, yet things keep getting in the way of your getting it.  Joey really wanted this move into a Supports for Community Living (SCL) house.  So much that he could taste it.  Everyone on Campus knew what Joey was doing and how badly he wanted it.  Joey talked about it all the time, sharing whatever latest news he had, and his excitement.  Everything was going along nicely until the state agency, Money Follows the Person (MFP), threw a wrench into the process.
MFP offers financial support to people with disabilities who are shifting from living in a medical facility to independent housing.  Joey needed this financial support to purchase accommodation equipment for his new home.  This unexpected hurdle occurred thanks to a recently proposed, not yet approved regulation proposal by the state SCL program preventing caseworkers employed with a service organization from managing cases of clients receiving services from the same organization.  While the intention is to eliminate conflicts of interest, this proposal did not consider Joey’s personal choice of Lindsey, a case manager with SCL.  Worse, this proposal did not give Joey a voice in deciding who he has looking out for his best interest.

Since his arrival to WFC, Joey developed an instant friendship with Lindsey.  When Joey decided to make the move into SCL, he knew he wanted Lindsey to be his case manager for a number of reasons.  Aside from feeling comfortable with her, their personalities matched, which is an important facet of our person-centered organizational culture.  Second, Lindsey was accessible to Joey for whatever he needed leading up to and after his move into SCL.  Since her office was on Campus, Joey could see her whenever he needed.   Regardless of these reasons, MFP took issue with Joey’s selection of Lindsey, given the proposed regulation.  If Joey wanted financial support from the state’s agency to get the equipment he needed to make this transition into SCL, he would need to find another off-campus case manager. 
Joey and staff got busy resolving the issue.  Wes, Centre Pointe Cottage C program director, called several agencies in the Owensboro community to schedule case manager interviews for Joey.  Out of all the calls, only one person responded to Joey’s request for interviews.  Joey met the case manager and discussed many things, including her accessibility and availability to meet with him.  He learned that at best be she would able to meet with him once a month given her client workload.  Furthermore, if Joey wanted to see her more than once a month, each visit would require permission from her employer, which was not a guarantee!  This news did not set well with him.

Joey wrote a letter to MFP expressing his concerns about his case manager situation.  He outlined his efforts to find a new case manager, and the outcome of the one interview that responded to his request.  He explained her lack of availability was not acceptable to him, and re-expressed his choice that Lindsey be his case manager.  Signed, sealed, and delivered, the state agency backed off the demand for a non-WFC case manager, and approved Joey’s request! 
The news brought Joey great relief.  He felt a sense of control over his destiny, and ultimately, his own choices.  Regulations are a part of our world; and sometimes we have to work with them to work around them.  Joey jumped through the state’s hoops, made his case to them, and won.  With this roadblock removed, Joey had access to the funds he needed to support his move into the SCL house!  Once again, it was full-speed ahead towards his “Independence Day.”

In the Next Blog Entry: The Big Move!

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Blog content is copyrighted property of Wendell Foster’s Campus for Development Disabilities and Carolyn Smith Ferber (and/or other blog authors). Content may be used, duplicated or reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the Wendell Foster’s Campus. Permission for use, duplication or reprints may be made to wfcampus.org@gmail.com.