Thursday, January 27, 2011

Hunt for a New Home

I’m on the hunt for a new home for Robert.

Robert currently lives in a Residential Care for the Elderly in the Assisted Living portion of the facility. He has his own room with a television, mini-fridge and phone as well as his own bathroom (I’m jealous of his closet space!). Robert participates in all the activities at the facility with Bingo his absolute favorite. Whether it’s on the phone or while playing cards in the evening, our conversation about his day goes something like this:

“I played Bingo today and won a game.”

“Good job, hon! What did you win?”

“A Milky Way candy bar! They’re my favorite!”

He doesn’t eat these candy bars, though, he’s more like a Milky Way Candy Bar Hoarder -- his mini-fridge is filled with them (he’s lived at The Home for almost two years; wins at Bingo at least 4 times a week – you do the math). I’ve tried to take a couple (you know, just to make room) but he watches the supply like a hawk so I have to sneak them out. To make room. Like I said. Really.

At 45 years old Robert is by far the youngest resident of The Home and, in some regards, is higher functioning than some of the other residents. He has grown closest to a little old lady by the name of Meryl. She’s blind and in a wheelchair but they go to activities together and have developed a friendship. She is the only person he has connected with since moving in.

Because Robert doesn’t exactly fit the profile of the typical RCFE resident, we’ve had some difficulties. It took the staff a while to get used to him having seizures, the other residents never really adjusted to it and there have been conflicts as well. Robert wants to help set the table; the other residents complain that he’s touching the silverware. Robert has personal care issues so I understand why he shouldn’t be touching people’s silverware but it has led to some instances where Robert blurts out something mean to the staff when they ask him to stop.

It’s happened twice; both times when I talked with Robert about it he said he only was thinking about saying something mean. He didn’t actually say it. Well, hon, unfortunately they heard what you were thinking so please don’t do that again. He agrees but it’s best if I find him a more suitable environment.

Since June I have been working with the Alta Regional Center to get Robert accepted into their program so he can be involved in day programs with other developmentally disabled adults as well as have other housing options.

Seven months later . . .

Robert has been accepted into the program, has his “plan” developed and we even toured a potential Home today.

On the way to the potential new Home, I asked Robert what he would like in a new place. “I’d like the people to be nice.” Okay, sounds reasonable. What else? “I’d like to know what time they go to bed.” Oh, okay. He will have a roommate at the new Home so he was clearly trying to puzzle out the evening arrangements. Robert has an evening routine and goes to bed at 9:00 p.m. on the dot. I asked him what time he’d like the roommate to go to bed.

“Nine o’clock.”

Robert then looked at me with an expression of “why am I the one going to a new Home when you’re the one asking the silly questions?”  (So I miss the obvious, occasionally). 

The Home is a much smaller facility (Robert would be one of six – all men – in the house). Robert liked both the staff and the residents and really seemed to like his potential new roommate, Brian. The staff assured me that they encourage residents to help out so it won’t be a problem if Robert wants to help set the table (and they’ll make sure he’s clean before doing so).

There was a moment when I felt overwhelmed with the thought of him in this new Home and could feel the tears welling up (dang my trigger happy tear ducts!). The other residents are more physically disabled than Robert and all but his roommate are more cognitively impaired than him. Is this the right place for him? I want to make sure Robert is happy at his new place. I want to be sure the placement is right for him.

I must have asked Robert a dozen times if he liked it there. He repeatedly told me he liked the Home. He liked the people. He patiently sat down while I asked the director my checklist full of questions. When I was satisfied with all the answers, I asked Robert if he had any questions at all.

“What time does Brian go to bed?”  (Yeah, I forgot to put that one on my checklist.)

Turns out, it’s between 7:00 and 9:00. Close enough.

We’ll take it.

No comments: