Wednesday, June 28, 2006


Boy Scouts know this motto well!

I just interviewed a lady who lived in group homes and now is a successful artist, valued staff at a group home, a college graduate, an art school graduate, and an inspiring woman. She doesn't allow being hearing impaired effect anything about her or does she use her past as an excuse to avoid using her talents.

Something that stood out when she talked about staff in some of those group homes, was they weren't properly trained, so they didn't have the tools to work effectively with the children they were caring for. Your company may not have the resources available to train each staff thoroughly on the specifics of each residents individual challenges. It's to your atvantage to get the information you need.

This is what you can do;
  1. Talk with staff that works with the residents.
  2. Read the information on the residents.
  3. Make the most of any training that is offered in house where you are employed.
  4. Educate yourself. Get on the internet, go to the library, take a class, etc.

Do what you need to. You may not be the only staff this person has, but you may be the only staff that can make a differance. The lady I interviewed turned her life around because of one woman's consistancy, stability, unconditional love, and belief that she was worth the effort. Be the one who creates an environment that residents can thrive in and reach their potential. Be the one who inspires your co-workers. There's no telling what a resident can accomplish in a home where every staff makes a positive impact on the resident's life.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


Courtesy goes a long way.

Not too long ago a fellow staff from another group home called to see if I could cover a shift. I told him that I was already scheduled for those hours. I let him know that if it was an emergency, the program coordinator could approve me going to that house instead, since the house I usually work at has several staff during shifts. I suggested he contact his house manager regarding the possibility.

I was impressed-he called me back to let me know that his manager was coming in anyways and she’d cover the shift! He thanked me. The simple courtesy of saying thank you and his prompt call back with an update was very much appreciated.

Take a few minutes to be courteous. Though common courtesies have become uncommon, you can make courtesy common when you are interacting with others. It will be more than worth those few minutes it takes.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Be educated about who lives in the group home.

Know the diagnosis of the residents in the home. One place of information will be the senior staff and the house manager. Read the main file to learn how it has effected the resident in the past and present. To get a easy to understand medical description check out The National Institute of Mental Health and The National Institutes of Health.

Monday, June 12, 2006


Enjoy down time or activity with your staff.

I had some trouble with manager/staff relations when I managed a group home. When my supervisor brought it to my attention, I went to my staff. I went into the group home open minded, leaving defensiveness outside. I asked each staff one to one, what I could do to improve communication between us at the group home.

One staff didn't have anything specific for improvement. His response was not helpful, he said everything I did was wrong, everything I wrote in the com log sounded rude, and everytime I talked to anyone at the group home, everyone thought I was short with them. No amount of prompting turned him around to give me specifics that related to him and I. Sometimes it's best to know when to say when and move on.

I didn't get discouraged and my other two staff were much more helpful. They had specific examples of what didn't work with them. They had suggestions for improvement. One staff suggested accompaning them on outings with the residents. The other staff suggested coming in and having coffee on Sunday morning during shift change (the staff had developed the habit of all visiting over coffee during that time). I listened to them and implemented their suggestions.

Recently the manager where I work came in during the early evening. She did some paperwork. Addressed a few issues and asked some questions to clarify a few things. Then she made a difference, she made time to just visit. We all laughed for about 1/2 an hour or more. She fulfilled her responsibilities and balanced it with having fun with us. I don't know if she even realized that making that time for us, she made a difference in her relationship with us.

There will always be business to take care of, but a manager who has a close relationship with group home staff knows how to keep things balanced and enjoy some down time. A good manager knows how to have some fun with staff.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


I was a state finalist in the Illinois Miss United Teenager Pageant?

It was a fun experience and met lots of nice people. My
scrapbook has been packed away for years. My boys don't remember me showing it when they were little. I don't think my daughers ever saw the scrapbook. Everyone thought it was pretty cool, but they couldn't help but laugh at the hair style!!

I did my community service hours required for the pageant with Easter Seals. I participated in a fundraising fair and I also raised funds for them while participating in a dance marathon. I went way over the minimum required hours both years.

I was in the pageant in 1977 and 1988. I received the Miss Congeniality award in 1988.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I am seeing if I can post to my blog from an e-mail.


I had to edit it because It was a little large, so I will try again with a smaller font from my e-mail, next time


I will start wih the Iranian (also known as Persian) culture.

There are two reasons I picked the Iranian culture first. One reason is selfish, so I could learn more about the the impressive young men I work with. The other reason is since 9-11, there is still predudice that remains.

I found a great Iranian culture information on Wikipedia. I liked that it included holiday information and contributions to history.


Be open to new cultures

In the group home I work at, I work with a few gentleman from Iran. They are hard working, dedicated, respectful, caring, and dependable young men. I have very much enjoyed learning about their culture. They don't take the oportunities available to us, here in the US, for granted. They don't find excuses not to succeed. They work towards a goal and are patient waiting for results of their work. They are responsible and make the best of situations. Listening to them as we work together has been inspiring to me. They make me smile and laugh during my shifts at the group home.

Many group homes have people who have come here from other countries. Many come to attend school. Group home schedules are compatable with school schedules. Group homes also will hire people with no experience and train them. These are some of the reasons this field is appealing to people from other countries.

I will be providing information on various cultures on this blog. It is hoped that learning about the cultures of a co-worker will make it that much easier to get to know them.

Friday, June 09, 2006


Staff new to working in group homes have an advantage.

You might think never working in a group home will put you at a disadvantage. One manager prefers someone new to the field. She's found out that a staff who has never worked in a group home is easier to train.

She discovered staff that is working in a group home for the first time, won't come in with bad habits. They learn the right ways from the beginning. Staff with no experience often ask a lot of questions instead of thinking they all ready know everything, so they learn about the residents, the home, and the company more quickly. She has noticed they also keep themselves busier in the group home during their shifts.

If you are an experienced staff and it's your first day, learn from some one new to group homes. Make a point to ask a lot of questions, keep yourself busy, and leave your bad habits at your last job.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I asked two residents about what makes a good staff.

This past weekend, while doing relief at one of the group homes, I spoke with two residents who are high functioning. One is her own gardian and the other is allowed limited alone time and can take the bus on her own to her destination and back.
I asked them what made group home staff good.

One lady mentioned things that had to do with a basic need being met-having her meals being provided for and that they were good. She likes when staff takes her out to eat. She said she had good staff because they do those things.

The other lady liked staff that didn't swear around her. She's a young lady in a home with older ladies. She likes staff who gets her out to do things and meet other people like her and that are her age. She has limited recreation funds and she said her staff couldn't take her places.

As staff, it's our job to meet basic needs in creative ways. It's our job to be creative with limited funds. The residents count on us to do what they cannot on their own.

Sunday, June 04, 2006


Yesterday at work I got input for this blog.

I talked with the group home staff and residents for input for this blog at the group home I was relief staff at, this weekend. They were very encouraging and liked the idea for this blog. I resisted giving out the blog link info. I want to wait till I have more postings. I want to have a variety of postings that will be helpful for group home staff.

I haven't gotten any responses for my requests for links.


This is from Jan's Idea Box.

Individualization! Special order without the special order expense.
With limited funds, group home staff have to shop where they get the most for their budget. Often many of the homes have similar linen, dishes, shower curtains, etc. Often everyone shops at the same store. There's little or nothing special on the walls. Everyone does the best they can with their budgets and the options available.

I wanted to fill the need to have affordable and unique items to put on the group home walls. The managers could make choices on the order form that made their framed photo unique from other group home's orders.

Lots of people take beautiful photographs and could enlarge them for framing. To set my framed photos apart I have several options on the order form. My photos when on the wall, will be unique and reflect the personality of the group home residents. The managers and residents can select a photo from about 150 choices (small versions on the 4 page order form). In addition they choose the frame color and size. They can also choose to have text of their choice printed on the photo they choose. In homes that have residents that destroy property, the photo can be laminated and framed so there's not the danger of glass being broken.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Most days go smooth.

Some days at the group home, you just can't believe that you get paid to go to movies, hike, go to the park, and attend concerts. If you are a parent you like getting paid for things you do for free at home like laundry, cooking, cleaning, transporting, and personal care prompting. These are the easy days in the group home.

Today, at the group home I work at, I didn't feel like I get paid enough for my job.

I had an overnight shift. I heard the resident get up to use the restroom. Usually he goes back to bed and to sleep if I don't go to the restroom and check on him. I sat on the couch monitoring how long he was taking. He was there a little too long, so I got up to check to make sure he wasn't sneaking water (his fluid intake is restricted for health reasons) and to prompt him back to bed.

Well……..he had a very loose BM and though he was about to sit down, obviously he partially missed the toilet. There was BM on the toilet, the wall, the shower curtain and floor. He was done, so I cleaned him up and put his laundry in the washer. I held back some gagging. He went back to bed. That made cleaning easier.

I sprayed what I could with Clorox clean-up to cover the smell. I got more gloves, a plastic bag, and paper towels. I came back and wiped/scooped up some and couldn't stop gagging. I went outside for a few minutes.

The other resident woke up and was able to wait for his morning cigarette while I finished cleaning. (A more difficult situation would be to have the second resident impatient or have a behavior).

With my shirt over my nose I cleaned more. I tried to work through the gagging, but was afraid I would add to the mess! I went back outside again. The third time back to the restroom I was able to finish. I got the other resident his cigarette. I went outside for a few minutes and then returned to the restroom to put the final touches on the cleaning and disinfecting.

After getting the resident some anti-diarrhea medicine, I had a cup of coffee. I skipped eating till my shift was over-three hours later.

I guess everyday can’t be an easy, recreation filled day!

Friday, June 02, 2006

IN THE COMMUNITY pre-planning

We cannot make people accept the diabled in the community.

We should never contribute to unacceptance, though. Before you take a group home resident out in the community, take some time to be prepared. It will make the outing a possitive experience for the resident, staff, and community. Please remember, you are mere caregiver. No matter how perfect you do things, no matter how much you prepare, some outings will just end up to be a bad outing. The best thing we can do as group home staff is accept it, learn what you can from it, and move on!

When planning an outing, consider the likes and dislikes of the resident. It's their outing, not the staff's! Staff has time off the clock to do things of their choice. The residents are dependent on caregivers to plan things they would choose if they could. I'm not saying there should never be exposure to new things or that staff can't have fun. I'm encouraging that the resident's preferances be put first. It's hoped staff has the courage to introduce new things to a resident. I believe it's good to share your interests with them.

Please keep in mind you are being paid by the company you work for to serve the resident, do your best to give the resident the best life they are capable of having. They come first, not the staff.

To plan an activity or outing there is information you will need find out first. Here's a beginning list:
Does the resident have funds?
  • Will transportation be needed?
  • When will a vehicle be availale for transportation?
  • How long will the outing take?
  • When is the resident available to go on an outing?
  • Is special clothing or supplies available if needed?
  • Will additional staff be available if needed?
  • With this information, use what you know about the resident, add additional infromation directly from the resident, and talk with experienced staff members. Put it all todgether to make an informative choice for an activity or outing.

    Thursday, June 01, 2006

    Blog progress

    Today I looked for forums and support for group home staff. I didn't find much yet. I did e-mail a group home consultant business requesting permission to add their link to my site. I asked them if they knew of any sites thatwould be helpful.

    Reducing staff absenteeism

    I can see why this worked!

    The Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies found that there was a problem with staff absenteeism where staff were working with developmentally disabled individuals in group homes.
    Charles A. Boudreau and his colleagues Walter P. Christian and Susan F. Thibadeau of the May Institute successfully reduced the days that group home staff were absent. They did it by using a simple procedure.
    In the study a slight change was made in proceedure. The new proceedure required staff not only find their own coverage, they had to notify an immediate supervisor there was an unscheduled absence.
    This resulted in a reduction in the use of unscheduled leave by 56% in the first group home, 66% in the second and 35% in the third.
    More on the study

    What to wear

    Be prepared-have fun-be safe.

    Most of your shifts in group homes will pass with no incidents. It really won't matter what you wear. There's no way to tell ahead of time what your shift will be like. There's no telling what you will encounter during your shift. When working in a group home, it's your choice to be prepared. Be prepared to be able to have fun at the park and be prepared to finish you shift injury free. Don't let how you dress hinder you from having fun or being safe when employed by a group home.

    Pick modest, comfortable clothes. Shifts may be long and you will be less fatiqued if you are comfortable. Avoid clothes that could restrict movement.

    Choose clothes that you don't mind if they got stained or torn. You can shop at the second hand store for your work clothes or save old clothes when you purchase new ones.

    You should look neat and clean since part of your job description may include taking them to appointments, outings, and day or work programs.

    If you work in a home with an aggressive resident, layering your clothes and loose clothes will keep you safer. Long sleeves will protect your arm from a someone who pinches and/or grabs. Wearing layers allows you to take off a shirt, leaving a resident holding an article of clothing (instead of you) while you distance yourself from the attack. It can buffer a hit.

    Hats are helpful if you work with someone who pulls hair. Long hair should be pulled back. Braiding is also helpful if you have long hair. You can also fold it in half and pull back.

    Leave jewelry at home. It can be damaged. Some residents find it distracting or tempting to steal. Avoid body jewelry that can be grabbed or possibly snag and cause injury to you. Be extra careful regarding anything around your neck that an aggressive resident could use to cause injury. Wear long key holders across your chest or over your shoulder (like a purse), not around your neck.

    Shoes that are comfortable, cover your feet, and have good traction are suggested. You may have a wet floor from a spill or accident, you may have to run after a resident who tries to leave without permission.

    Did you know I use to show horses?

    We had a few horses at our small farm in northern IL.

    In 1976 I showed Arabian Horses in class A shows in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Indiana. We also showed in class B shows near our home in northern IL.
    I showed in Showmanship at Halter (I always placed) and Western Pleasure (I never placed at the class A shows). I always got first or second at the class B shows.
    My favorite horse was a black and white paint called Patches because I was allowed to ride it in the woods near our home. Another favorite was foal born at our farm and it was fun watching it grow.
    I rarely get to ride anymore, but still love it. Someday I'd like to do an overnight ride and campout.