Jacinta would not get out of bed, would not go to her day placement and was not happy. She had been this way for years. Mum and dad were at a complete loss as to what to do, the day centre could not offer any thing and no one could see any light at the end of any tunnel, especially Jacinta.
Jacinta would not get out of bed, would not go to her day placement and was not happy. She had been this way for many many months. Mum and dad were at a complete loss as to what to do, the day centre could not offer any thing and no one could see any light at the end of any tunnel, especially Jacinta. Mum decided to come to Milparinka to talk to us. We had a conversation with mum and asked her what she wanted from us, worked with her to imagine a better life for Jacinta, we told her stories of other peoples lives and that we can work in a way that makes the best sense for the her and Jacinta.
Years and years of traditional disability service had taught mum not to ask for much and not to expect much. What mum wanted most was for Jacinta to be happy and any thing more than that was a pipe dream. We did our thinking with mum and continued to have conversations and made a decision to send who we considered to be the right staff member over to meet Jacinta, get to know her and see where that takes us. This particular staff member had previously had quite a few significant successes with other people and we all thought it made sense for her to be with Jacinta. Jacinta didn’t think that. So we got back together with mum and talked about what Jacinta really relates to, what passion do they both share and it turned out to be dancing. The original staff member could dance but that was not our focus. We thought that because the staff member had done such terrific work with other people she could do the same with Jacinta. We learnt that what fits, suits one person doesn’t necessarily fit or suit another person and this applies to staff no matter how good they are at their job. We had a relatively new inexperienced staff member who was from a non English speaking background and who was an amazing dancer. Her dancing was from her cultural background
and nothing at all like the dancing that Jacinta and mum were used to. But it was dancing none the less and all parties had a passion for it. We went with the new staff member and introduced her to Jacinta and let them all talk about dancing. And talk they did.
They talked, spent time getting to know each other while they watched dance videos, made lunch and eventually went out to some shopping centres. This staff member also had a young child and Jacinta loved children so they were able to share that common interest as well. What young new mum doesn’t want to talk about their child? This process of getting to know the person well takes time and from the outside can look like an easy job that is simply watching videos, making and eating food and wandering around shopping centres. The reality is the complete opposite. The new staff member had to think, think, think, think and observe, observe and observe about what makes sense to Jacinta, where will this conversation lead to, why did that work but that not, what engaged Jacinta and why. Some things that came out of this process included Jacinta really likes children, toys, dancing and food. This process took about six months at which point the staff and the family began to see a change in Jacinta. Jacinta was willingly getting out of bed and spending time with the staff member, was opening up more to the staff, becoming engaged in conversations about what she would like to do and for mum the pipe dream was beginning to become just a little bit real.
Over time Jacinta began to trust and get to know the staff and the staff were able to demonstrate reliability and punctuality both of which are very important to the family.