A moment of truth can best be described as a moment of choice. It's when we are tested, when decisions must be made and when our competence and character shine. For many, many years, Mainstream Living staff have been sharing moments of truth. And though each moment is different, they all reflect the culture of service which continues to drive our work each and every day.
Each fall the HCBS department celebrates our employees by nominating and selecting staff for several annual awards. One of the awards given is “Professional of the Year” and is presented to a staff person that has made outstanding contributions to the services of our members. This 2016 award went to William, who works with three young men diagnosed with autism. He provides calm, consistent care, and helps ensure that structure is in place at the site for the other staff to do the same. One example of this occurred when he developed a color-coded dry eraser board system to support the members in following their daily schedules. A couple of months after the award was given to William, his supervisor called him to let him know that he would be receiving a wage enhancement and that he should come to the office. William shared with his supervisor that he had been thinking about Christmas and trying to figure out how he would scrape enough money together to buy Christmas presents for his eight children, and that this enhancement was truly a blessing.
Unbeknownst to the supervisor, at the time of her phone call, William was having lunch with a member and his parents. A bit later, the parent called the supervisor to express what a wonderful moment she just witnessed and what a wonderful thing Mainstream did for its employees. About a year prior to this event, this parent asked Mainstream Living to take over their son’s apartment from another provider because they were not satisfied with staff training, support given to staff and the resulting treatment of members. Since working with us, they have been pleased with services, our training and the initiative shown by staff like William.
Three men live at our 10th Street home in Ankeny and are fairly reliant on staff support due to mental health issues, brain injury and autism. On December 23rd, while working her shift, Amanda started to smell smoke. She quickly got all of the members out of the home and immediately called 911. The fire department was prompt in responding, discovering the fire and extinguishing it. The fire department reported that the fire started due to faulty wiring in the exhaust fan in the bathroom and could have spread very quickly. They noted that Amanda’s quick actions likely saved the entire duplex. After the fire, Amanda and supervisory staff took the members to a hotel with a suite so that they were still able to enjoy the holiday. They spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in the hotel, celebrating the holiday and cooking their meal. Amanda did an outstanding job in this situation, providing for the safety and care of our members. Due to her timely response and the efforts of the fire department and their landlord, the members were back in their home on December 26th.
Mark lived with Mainstream Living at our 3rd Street home in Ankeny for more than 20 years. He had cerebral palsy, seizure disorder, quadriplegia, and profound intellectual disability. Mark was reliant on staff to help with all of his personal care and daily needs. As he aged, his health diminished and he frequently suffered from pneumonia. It finally got to a point where he was unable to recover from his illnesses. Mark went to Taylor Hospice House on two separate occasions, but was able to return home to us both times. On both occasions, Mark was unable to acclimate to the hospice home and was uncomfortable there. At the urging of his parents and staff, his interdisciplinary team decided to keep him home regardless of the situation. His family wanted his final days to be where he was comfortable, with people that he knew and loved. At the end, Mark was visited by a hospice nurse every couple of hours to receive morphine. Hepassed away on December 3rd with his family and friends near him. Eighteen current and former staff members were at his home to offer support to each other and his family.
On December 8th, one of our Program Coordinators attended a “Money Follows the Person” meeting at the Urbandale Library. “Money Follows the Person” is a grant that offers extra money to providers for up to one year for agreeing to provide services to a difficult individual who is likely to remain in or be sent to one of the state institutions. One of the highlights was hearing from members utilizing this program. They had an opportunity to speak about how this program has impacted their lives. There were presentations from various groups that support members and providers. Susan Smith from Iowa’s Technical Assistance and Behavior Support program, gave a presentation and discussed how she can support a member and their team as they work through challenging behaviors. As she concluded, she said that she wanted to identify three agencies that were doing a great job. The first agency that she identified was Mainstream Living. She shared that she has been working with a team in Ankeny who was supporting a member who was particularly challenging. She relayed that the staff members have worked hard to follow the behavior plan and that each time she meets with the team, she expects to hear that they just can’t do it anymore. She expressed amazement that when they meet, the team is committed to continuing to work with this member. This acknowledgement from an outside entity was especially rewarding.