We so often get busy providing services to the people we support, that we need to stop, look and listen to what they are giving back to us, as we continue on this journey together…….
On any given evening, if you knock on Claire’s door, she may be busy in the kitchen preparing dinner or she may be kicked back in her recliner listening to the news. And whatever it is that she is doing, she’s always gracious to friends, family, and staff when they knock, greeting with a smile and sometimes a hug to those closest to her.
In February 2012, Claire will celebrate 3 years of living in her own apartment. With the support of her parents, Claire was able to enter into a lease agreement and move into her own place for the very first time. Her reaction to the first showing of this potential living space will never be forgotten. Through smiles, sounds of excitement and tears of happiness, it was clear that this living opportunity was something CLAIRE WANTED TO TRY!
Claire spent her childhood growing up with her parents and siblings. Although Claire moved out of their home in her late teens/early twenties, she and her family are very close, working together and with her support team to ensure Claire’s desires and needs are being met. She and her brother look forward to short get-a-ways each year to their favorite mountain retreats. Claire enjoys spending a weekend here and there at her parents’ house, or meeting her Mom for lunch when possible.
Almost every Sunday, Claire unwinds and recharges at a Jubilee church service. She has been a member of the Jubilee Community since 2007, and has an even longer relationship with the minister, Howard. There aren’t many Sundays that go by without Claire and Howard sharing a hug at the end of a service. Claire has a friend who now goes to church with her, and makes sure that no matter who her support staff is, her friend is picked up every Sunday morning.
Before February 2009, Claire’s days were usually filled with very structured activity or sometimes not much activity at all. What she ate was mostly decided for her. Staff quite often told her when it was time to bathe or take her medications. She lived with a variety of people, many of which she did not choose to live with. The staff that supported her weren’t always hired based on MATCHING STAFF, one of many person centered thinking tools now used to support Claire.
Because Claire uses few words to speak, it has been more important than ever for her support team to use person centered thinking skills and tools to learn how to best support Claire. Claire is very intuitive, she knows what she likes and doesn’t like, she is willing to try new things, and yet relies heavily on routines and rituals to guide her through her day. Claire is happiest when she is able to control the flow of her day, and relies heavily on the staff to support her.
Claire has shown that she feels safe in her apartment and seems to like the staff that currently works with her. She has many more good days than bad, and is not only learning but teaching those who are in her life about the things she CAN do and LIKES to do! Claire’s next adventure is to explore a new communication device that will hopefully help her express her thoughts with others…guessing with each other can cause confusion and frustration for everyone!
In the last decade of receiving services from Liberty Corner, Claire has continued to grow into a wonderful woman with a warm heart. She stays quite busy helping others, including animals, and staying in touch with her favorite people, and keeping up with her household responsibilities. Claire’s perseverance through her many years of institutional living and health care challenges is a testament to her strong will and spirit, and the dedicated support her loving family and staffing team continuously gives.