Saturday, 9 October 2010

Getting to know your clients,


"Green Man" by Susie Mallett, 2009

...visit them at home and you might realise that your clients are in fact someone else

I have always found that this is true but I have never written it down quite so consciously before.

I made home-visits this week and did many other things perhaps, that's what has made it clearer to me.

I have received phone calls from parents of adult clients asking my for advice, and from doctors working for the city courts. Doctors who write reports that will contribute to the case determining how much care money someone is allowed.

On the tram here and there I read articles in newspapers and magazines, and wrote notes for blogs.

I also worked for two consecutive days with the classroom assistants of the schoolchildren who attend my groups in the afternoons.

It was this busy week, full of different jobs that perhaps all together brought me to write the title of this posting.

Changes

I was a carer myself for many years. I think that this experience has made me especially aware that I have to look at a situation from many viewpoints. When I visit adult clients in their homes I often discover that my clients are in fact different members of their famliies. This sometimes happens in the homes of disabled children too.

Sometimes the clients change, sometimes it is different than expected right from the start.

I have written before about clients changing.

I have described in the story of the four-year-old who is now an nineteen-year old at university. This story illustrates the change well. My client was a four-year old, a ten-year-old and a fifteen- year-old, then the client became her Mum. We communicate regularly, plans are made and decisions are taken. Mum enjoys the continued conductive input and the daughter shares in this indirectly.

I have also experienced something very different. I have been in situations where from the beginning I have known that my client will not be the person with the disability, but the partner, the mother, a brother, a sister or the carer. I am often invited to give advice or physical help to a disabled client but in the end I am giving the help to another family member.

Of course it is always difficult to separate the different needs and to decide who the client really is in such situations, and of course really the whole family is always the client in a conductive upbringing.

There have been quite a few cases in my working life as a conductor when I have known immediately that I will not be able to influence the life of the person with a disability directly but that I will be able to offer something to someone else closely involved.

Perhaps the potential client is not longer actively able to take part in a conductive group or in individual sessions, perhaps no longer motivated to take part in a session or in anything much at all. Sometimes the whole family situation prohibits my direct contribution, then I have to work indirectly.

In such cases I see my role as motivating the carer. I have a role to show the partner or a parent how to motivate, how to encourage participation in life.

The more that I write of this posting, the more that I realise that, over the past twenty years, I have had many such clients. I also realise that as a carer I too was one of these clients. I took part in many sessions and therapies and evening classes alongside my partner, I know that in many of these sessions I was the main client. I suspect that the person I cared for was not aware of this, but I think this is often so with my clients too. sometimes the person offering the sessions was very aware of the roles that we all had often, often not.

A few years ago I was asked to visit a family with a physiotherapist colleague. We did all we could for a severely physically disabled man, who had suffered a heart attack while on a remote walking holiday. Emergency help had arrived on the mountainside, but it took too long in getting there to be able to prevent severe disability.

His wife who is also the main carer watched and questioned, assisted and talked to us throughout each visit. Eventually there came a time when she realised that, physically, we could do no more but that she had learnt a lot that would encouraged her in her continued caring for her husband. She had learnt the importance of motivating him to be as active as he could.

We continue the contact with this family and they have access through our association to a number of different services, including legal advice and transport that they take up when needed. We speak to each other regularly and questions can be answered over the phone.

Our client in this case is now the whole family, another case of change.

What could I offer?

At this week’s home-visit I knew from the moment that I stepped into the house that my client would be the carer, the wife of the disabled man.

When a family-member suddenly becomes severely disabled many things are needed all at once, a wheelchair, a special bed, respite care, physiotherapy, speech therapy, legal advice, financial support, learning how to care, transport, structural alterations at home. The list goes on and it is all needed at the one time. Often the partner changes role too, no longer only a partner in life, but a carer too. This is a role that needs to be learnt. Perhaps this is what I can offer.

I was visiting the family this week at the request of the association that I do a lot of work for. I realised that the very ill and both physically and mentally disabled man would not not able to take part in the conductive groups and sessions for adults that I provide, but that his wife could probably benefit from some of the other services that the association offers its members. I think that she could also benefit from learning about conductive upbringing and how the starting point for all my work is discovering what will motivate someone to want to take part in life.

After two hours of discussion we discovered that holidays and foreign travel, and talk about computers and sport, lit up a light in the disabled man’s eyes. Even produced some spontaneous movements and words.

Now all we needed to do was work out how to integrate some of these into his life. We began with the computer.

The wife, and carer, was delighted when I told her that I knew of a company that assists in setting up computers for people with disability. I said that I thought it very probable that her husband could use one once more. There are no end of systems in use, all controlled in different ways. So much is now possible. instructions can be given with a puff of breath to close the curtains, with a blink of an eye to move the mouse.The flick of a finger or a twitch of a toe will control a joystick.

As the family previously enjoyed travel and holidays I also suggested that they look out for a rehabilitation centre where both of them can take part. I felt it very important that the carer also had a time for rehabilitation in a clinic. I provided them with brochures and contacts.

Blogging and thinking

I wrote this blog on tram journeys between appointments and in my head over the past few days.

Last night I got home a bit earlier than the other days in the week, I think it was 19.00! I had time to sit down and read a blog or two but I stopped at Norman’s where I left a comment.

Branding my kind of conductive practice

I started to think about what my brand of conductive upbringing is and how I improve it.

I improve it by changing. I change it by watching the market and discovering what form of conduction suits the clients, having decided who the client is. Then I need to decide whether I can offer something and if not I try to find out who can.

My brand this week

This week in my brand of conductive upbringing I have offered many things:

  • I have been mentoring younger conductors over the miles, inland and elsewhere.
  • I have begun the training of a young man who will help with the day-to-day running of our conductive centre.
  • I have been distributing leaflets and advertising the up-coming congress in Würzburg within the association where I have been working this week.
  • I have been speaking to doctors about the level of care that my clients are entitled to.
  • I have been working with a designer on a project for my trip to Hong Kong, which has also involved email correspondence with several people round the world.
  • I have been advising an adult client over the Internet using Skype.
  • I have been advising parents of adult clients on the telephone.
  • I have been negotiating attendance in my groups by clients from further afield, talking about the provision of accommodation and types of sessions that we can offer.
  • I have also tried to do a few work related things for me: write my blog, visit the bank, send off wor-related post and make phone calls to organise my own attendance at the Würzburg congress.

There was actually so much to list that I have forgotten to mention that this week I also had:

  • Four-hour sessions each morning for four littlies from the integrated kindergarten and, to top it al,l my colleague was off sick!
  • I worked with two new children on one afternoon to decide what we could offer them.
  • I worked with my adult workers group on one evening.
  • Then there were the three afternoons with the school children.

Branding?

Improving?

My brand is very diverse, just like a one-man-band always is! The improving is constant as I find out who the clients are and what they need.

Most important above everything else at the moment in my particular brand is that I remember to get enough sleep! Not only enough sleep but also some food for my soul.

I am now off to the city for a walk in the autumn sun, to make an appointment at the hairdresser’s perhaps, to drink a coffee, write the next posting and people-watch.

Tomorrow I will seek more soul food and perhaps blog material too!

I will go wandering with my knaosack on my back with a big group of my friends and friends of friends.

While I wander I will wonder, I will write postings in my head. I will collect bright berries for crafty projects, take photographs and conductively spiral upwards.

All this forms an important part of my "brand" too.

Notes

Norman Perrin -

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