Friday, March 16, 2012

Finding Comfort Even on the Bad Days

I don’t like hearing that Robert got in trouble (or is causing trouble) at his New Home or at Day Program. My first thought is “oh, crap, he’s going to get kicked out” which is a leftover reaction from when his previous care facility used an incident to try to evict him. (Never mind that Robert’s longtime girlfriend had just broken up with him and I had warned the facility he was going to act out. Which he did.)

The call this morning was from Day Program. The director calmly told me that Robert was having a rough day. She explained there is a client at the program who talks loud and incessantly, repeating the same thing over and over. She said it can be annoying to people. It was early in the day and clients were being rewarded with a breakfast (this would be Robert’s second breakfast of the day). Robert became agitated with the constant talking and yelled at the other client. He even used a few curse words while doing so. He wouldn’t stop doing it so the director took away Robert’s breakfast (it was a treat, after all, and he wasn’t behaving).

Taking food from Robert is never a good idea but I understand why it had to be done. There are consequences for bad behavior. (At least he wasn’t in the middle of eating Rocky Road ice cream – I cringe at the thought of what would have happened if he had that taken from him).

Taking breakfast away from Robert further upset him and he took a swing at the director (thankfully, missing).

Robert was having a very, very bad day.

The director calmly explained the story to me and said that he was now in a different room, participating in a different activity with a different group of people. She told me she wants me to know when these things happen and for me not to worry (obviously, she’s met me before and knows worry and I are best buds).

I told her I thought there might be a few things going on that contributed to him getting upset. For one, it’s raining. Robert does not like the rain. If one drop of water gets on him or his walker, it stops him in his tracks and he wants it dried off immediately. For some reason, water really causes him stress. I’ve provided him a rain coat with a hood but he still wants to use an umbrella (although I’m not sure how he manages to push his walker and carry his umbrella). I think one reason why Robert is hesitant to wash him hands is he doesn’t like them to be wet. Luckily, he doesn’t refuse to bathe so this is a manageable problem.

Another possibility for Robert’s crankiness is I told him earlier in the week that I would be out of town this weekend and he wouldn’t be able to come over to visit. I know he looks forward to his visits with us but this is an overdue Valentine’s Day trip with Hubby. This combined with the rain and the other client yelling (and whatever else may have happened at New Home this morning) was just too much for Robert. He acted out and got in trouble.

The director agreed that any of these possible reasons for the acting out (or combination of them) could cause Robert to have a bad day. She assured me this happens and they deal with this all the time. She told me not to worry and that Robert would be fine.

When the director and I finished talking, I spoke with Robert.

“How is your day, Rob?” (Other Brother and I are the only ones who get away with calling him Rob).

“They took my food.” (I saw that coming).

I put on my “mom” hat and explained to him that he can’t get extra treats when his behavior is not good. After I was certain he understood that he needed to behave, we started joking around and he was laughing and cracking a few jokes of his own. I told Robert to apologize to the director and give her a hug. He agreed he would be good and would tell her he was sorry.

After saying our goodbyes, I hung up then called to talk to the director again. She said Robert had a huge grin on his face and “was back.” She said she and Robert agreed to talk nice to one another and then she held out her hand to shake on it. He held out both hands to her and they clasped hands, agreeing to a better day.

Because of this kind of communication, because I know this incident will not get him kicked out of the program, I know I don’t have to worry.

Robert is definitely in good hands, even on his bad days.


Leslie Hammer said...

Heh. I don't like incessant talking either (unless I'm the one doing it) so incan fully sympathize with Robert.

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Leslie, I certainly couldn't guarantee I'd be any more patient either! Thankfully, the director handled the situation beautifully. I owe her!

Unknown said...

This is really great.. She seems like she's got the patience of a saint so kudos to her. I know a lot of people hate confrontation because it sounds so bad, but it's just conflict resolution. Robert understood and all is good.

Sandy Spurlock said...

This was a great example of a difficult situation with an experienced caregiver...sounds like you really have Robert in the right place. This story is instructive in and of itself, but in a larger perspective, maybe we should all think before reacting to anyone's behavior...they may not think or be able to think as we do and it is easy to assume wrongly that they can and react without thinking...thank you for sharing! This has applications far beyond what you intended!

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Thank you, Sandy. It's true we just may not know what is going on with someone else to explain their behavior (which may seem odd to us). Robert's Day Program is really terrific. Now if I only had such faith in his care facility! :-)

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Dennis, The director is so wonderful. I think it really helps because she has a special needs child and is always thinking about how she would like her child to be treated. Thanks for stopping by -- I know you've been so busy going global and everything. :-)

Imogen Ragone said...

It sounds like you have Robert in a great place, and the director of program sounds really understanding and supportive. And they want your involvement, which is a really good thing. We all have bad days sometimes, and Robert is no different...
I do hope you had a wonderful weekend away with your husband, and have come home refreshed!

keepupweb said...

It does sound like Robert has found a new home that fits well foor him. It's great that you have such a good relationship with the director. She sounds very caring. It sounds like Robert is being looked after. I hope you have (or had) a wonderful weekend with your husband. (You need to be pampered too!)

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Sherryl, Robert couldn't be in a better Day Program. It really is comforting to know that he is in good hands during the day (still working on his care facility but even that has improved). It was nice to get away. There's always a tinge of guilt but I know it's important and my husband I do feel refreshed again.

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Imogen, You really hit on something that is important to me: they involve me in Robert's care and want that. That has been the problem with the facility where he lives - they aren't used to family involvement and made it clear from the start they didn't want it. Knowing his Day Program keeps me in the loop is a huge relief.

Judy, The Reflective Writer said...

How wonderful to have people with Robert who actually know how to problem solve, help people cope, and set reasonable expectations (with room for forgiveness). One of the most upsetting things to me is seeing caregivers (or teachers or anybody in a position of power and authority) react inappropriately to the inevitable fluctuations in skills that individuals needing care will show.

I'm really glad you and your husband gave yourself the gift of a weekend together. Robert is not perfect (of course none of us are!) and he's going to have days that are not his best. You can't protect him from that, or the consequences. But you've done so well making sure he has supportive people around him.

Judy Stone-Goldman
The Reflective Writer
Personal-Professional Balance Through Writing

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

It is such a relief to know Robert is in good hands at his day program. The director does an excellent job of hiring good, caring people and she is very hands on herself. You're right about needing to understand the "fluctuations in skills" with individuals. Robert is certainly not perfect and can act out (as happened here). It brings me great comfort to know he can do that and his day program will be understanding and knowledgeable about how to handle it.

(The weekend away was wonderful, by the way!).

Julieanne said...

How wonderful to have caring, knowledgeable and understanding care givers at this facility! So wonderful to know that there are some of those out there!

Julieanne Case
Always from the heart!

Reconnecting you to your Original Blueprint, Your Essence, Your Joy| Healing you from the Inside Out |Reconnective Healing | The Reconnection| Reconnective Art |

Trish Hughes Kreis said...

Julieanne, Yes, it is so comforting to know I can rely on them without worry - through Robert's good days, seizure days and bad behavior days! I'm thrilled to have him at this program.