I feel a bit out of touch with all of you. We haven’t shared much lately nor had a chance to read many of your blogs. It is definitely time to catch up.
As you know our support staff quit almost two weeks ago. Whether it is the end of an extraordinary great relationship for Billy Ray or one that didn’t work well there is always an adjustment period when you lose a staff. You wonder if it is worth going through it again because of the loss for Billy Ray, time involved in training, the inconsistency that always occurs at least at first which adds to BR’s agitation, various employee-employer issues, etc., etc.
In Parenting Your Complex Child, I wrote:
“With all this to consider, you may wonder whether it is worth it. I have been there many times. The reality is that if your child requires one-on-one supervision, sometimes on a twenty-four-hour basis, and her care is exhausting, you need help. You can only live sleep deprived for so long. Your marriage could be damaged by an inability to communicate with each other. If you have other children, you may not be able to meet their needs without help with your complex child. It is difficult to take care of your own medical and dental needs let alone get a haircut occasionally without help. You can work through the difficulty of having in-home staff if you stay on top of the major issues, preventing as many problems as possible before they occur. Be clear about expectations from the initial interview.” (1)
Situations have changed a bit since I wrote that. With the difficulty finding in-home staff, many times you work around their availability. For example, a prior staff had her daughter in a private school and could not start her day here until she transported her daughter. She also needed to be off right on time. It seemed a reasonable request so we accommodated the schedule but it had impact on the Billy Ray’s schedule as well as family appointments, etc.
Many people who do this type of work make very little money so time off is problematic for them. If they are not able to go with you because of their own family needs, it is a financial problem for them if we wanted go to visit family for a few days or we wanted to take Billy Ray to one of my events. We took Billy Ray to one of my conferences early last summer. The then employee was a single mother who struggled to provide a private education for her daughter. She missed a day and a half of work because of it and I felt guilty the whole time we were away.
In my book, I suggested “If your family can endure it, I recommend you work on getting your child more focused and at least started on a comfortable schedule before getting more help. If you bring in outside help who are unfamiliar with your child, they may not maintain the routine you are trying to get your child you used to. That can disrupt the process for a while.” (1)
In a sense, I didn’t follow my own advice. Last summer Billy Ray had just gotten out of the hospital from the crisis summarized here and referenced various other places, still very sick when we hired our last staff. The entire family had come through a very traumatic experience. It has been necessary to make changes in routines and procedures periodically because of Billy Ray’s experience. That is difficult for Billy Ray and for staff as well as family at times.
I still feel Support Staff are a Valuable Resource. However, hindsight is 20-20, it might have been better to regroup with Billy Ray than to start a new staff right away. Thus, we are going to take our time and think things through before starting that.
Additionally, Billy Ray is going to have surgery for his GERD (acid reflex) next month. He is finally physically stable enough that we can go forward with that. This should reduce his abdominal pain considerably.
Once he has recovered from that we can get him on schedule before we decide how much help would work for our family. Sequence is important to Billy Ray as discussed here. It will be easier to get him established in his sequence and then train staff instead of having to retrain them when he is more physically ready to restart his schedule.
(1) Excerpted by permission of the publisher from "Parenting Your Complex Child" by Peggy Lou Morgan © 2006 Peggy Lou Morgan, published by AMACOM, division of American Management Association, New York, New York. www.amacombooks.org
Until next time,
Peggy Lou Morgan
Lighthouse Parents Blog
Websites: www.parentingyourcomplexchild.com and www.lighthouseparents.com
Parenting Your Complex Child Yahoo Group