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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Home Health... Homegirl?

Story # 2 in the Home Health Aide Chronicles

On Tuesday, Ophelia informed me they were sending me someone temporarily for 2 days. A permanent homecare worker had been found, and she was going through the registration process and would start on Thursday. The temp was young and capable, said Ophelia - around my age. She was a former public school teacher. I braced myself warily - at least it wouldn't be the disaster that was Danuta and at least it would last only two days.

At 4:30 the bell rang. Who's there? A hesitant, quiet voice told me her name was Ms. Yvonne Murphy. In walked a perfectly coiffed, well dressed, tall, very shy woman. She was wearing a crisp white shirt, black slacks, and her hair was done up like she was heading for a party. She had biracial features but was light skinned (not that any of it matters; I'm just describing her). She looked, for some reason, extremely uncomfortable to be in my house. I groaned inwardly. She did not look dressed for a homecare job.

I asked her to sit down and described Dovi to her. She informed me that she was starting a live-in job the next week, and when she had gone today for her registration she was practically begged to do a 2-day job until my permanent worker could arrive. Therefore she wasn't dressed for the job, but tomorrow, she promised, she'd come in a more comfortable outfit so she could be more helpful. I showed her the documentary I made of Dovi and she sniffled. It was a little awkward; she was around my age, sitting around my pristine kitchen (Wendy had been there that day), waiting for Dovi to come home. So we made small talk.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Home Health... Hindrance or Aide?

Let's continue with some more upbeat posts, shall we?

As I promised you in the previous post,  the Home Health Aide saga has some rather amusing moments. So let's begin.

I had heard for a while about the possibility of getting a homecare worker due to Dovi's disability. I was wary, however; I didn't feel like having an aide underfoot every day. After the constant flow of EI therapists and then Res Hab counselors, it was a relief to have our home and privacy back. But I realized that we sorely needed that extra bit of help at the end of the day. Dovi came home from the counselor between 5:30 and 6:00 and tended to destroy the house until my husband came home from work at 6:45. I always felt bad for my husband that he couldn't sit down and eat a decent dinner because he wanted to see Dovi in bed first - it's hard to eat with him jumping around and climbing onto the countertops. It would be a dream to have someone be with Dovi for that hour, keep him occupied in the bath, and put him in pajamas, while my husband and I ate dinner. Then, the aide could do some light cleaning - Dovi's messes, of course, and maybe his laundry and a little grocery shopping... It would be amazing.

But I knew that it was too good to be true, in all likelihood; I have had plenty of elderly relatives who had aides and it's a major hit-or-miss. Many of them are lazy, some of the steal, and some are annoying. It's rare to have a perfect fit. The likelihood of finding someone who was both good with kids and enjoyed cleaning was slim. I made sure to specify to the caseworker at the agency what I was looking for. It took only 2 days and they found someone for me. Her name, they said, was Danuta.

The initial visiting nurse had asked me how many hours a day I needed help. Since Dovi usually came home at 5:30, I told her from 4 to 8 pm; the aide could clean up Dovi's messes from 4 - 5:30 and then take over and play with him until she would do his supper, bath, and bedtime, and then finish cleaning up after him. I waited anxiously at 4:00 to see this mysterious Danuta and hoped she wouldn't be too annoying.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

At Long Last, the Breakthrough We Thought Would Never Come

After those 4 awful days when my ability to cope was tested to its limits, things quietly, subtly started changing. Perhaps it was my new attitude, thanks to the incredible talk by Rabbi Feiner. Perhaps it was HaShem finally having mercy on me and my family and starting to turn our wheel upwards. Whatever the case was, over the next few weeks, there were some surprisingly positive changes in my house.

My apartment passed inspection, and a huge burden was lifted from me. I had been living with a lot of stress for months anticipating the inspection, and thank G-d it passed easily.

The next week we went with Dovi to check out Otsar. I was extremely impressed with the school. Although the teacher of his classroom was not bilingual, I was sure i would be able to teach her some basic Yiddish words. They had a fantastic playground on premises, sensory therapy daily including an amazing sandbox, lots of toys to play with, custom made breakfast and lunches, and so forth. I was a little uneasy though; I knew Dovi would not make a lot of progress in this environment, as they only had 1 1/2 hours of ABA therapy a day and he did not need 'circle time' as he did not socialize with other kids at all. When I spoke to a parent at EEC I discovered that their curriculum was pretty similar (minus the ABA and sensory therapy) and I couldn't see Dovi managing to navigate an educational unit like they did at  Otsar. I was also worried about the long bus ride twice a day and the language barrier. I knew that the only reason to switch to Otsar was practical; he needed a normal center-based program where we didn't have a problem every time a therapist was absent. I informed them that we were in for the 2012-2013 school year, but I decided not to inform TABAC just yet.

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