Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It All Went To Pieces

I was excited about yesterday. I had boldly planned to go out with a friend after the kids' dinner, booking respite care. My first at a brief night outing. I should have known it could not be so easy.

First, the regular person could not make the evening time. Then they found a new person. I explained that (1) I don't like leaving the kids alone with someone we've all never met before and (2) I've found it's a much better experience for everyone if a new respite care person comes over and visits for the fist shift, getting an orientation and both of us kind of feeling out if this will work out.

I asked if this new person could possibly come by the house for an hour some time the preceding weekend so we could do this, otherwise, please cancel the request. The care coordinator said he'd check and then get back to me. He never did. I know I should have called to follow up, but frankly, I'm tired of that. So I just assumed it was a no-go. I called my friend to see if getting together at my house would work, with the kids playing in another room and some refreshment here. Sure, she said. Cool, I thought.

Flash forward to yesterday afternoon: I moved up homework in anticipation of a slightly moved-up dinner and set up for the kids' activity. I cleaned the hall bathroom. I was on fire. My friend called. Her child was sick, she was sorry, but had to stay home that night. I was bummed, but hey, we could all relax, and I had a nice red wine. That's always nice to sip. Wait ... who's that at the door?

Oh yes, the respite care person. Evidently the coordinator never called her back to explain about coming by on the weekend or not coming tonight. It gets better. They didn't even brief her that she'd be caring for a child. Never once mentioned autism. We both looked at each other, refraining from rolling our eyes at the ceiling and yanking at our hair in frustration.

Then I invited her inside and asked if she wouldn't mind staying a slightly shorter amount of time and doing a kind of orientation. She was fine with that. She asked some good questions, was calm and friendly with the kids, and took the snafu well.

I am calming down still before calling the respite care coordinator back. Good God, Almighty, how hard is it to give proper info before sending someone out on a job?! I temped for almost 15 years, across a variety of jobs (although not in the health care realm). I do know a bit about being sent out on an assignment.

I am also drafting up a list that I will be hand-walking to these people, so they can staple it on the folder of my son's file. I think I'll put it on screaming yellow paper to boot:

When contacting a new worker to provide respite care for my son, you need to communicate the following:
(1) My son is a child.
(2) He is on the autism spectrum.
(3) While he has challenges communicating verbally, he understands what you tell him, even if it doesn't always look like it.
(4) Because of the above, I need to have a 30-60 minute pre-visit with new respite care provider to give them an overview of how to care for James and to see if the new person is a good fit with the assignment (& vice versa).

So while things mostly worked out, the original plans and evening fell completely to pieces. And I missed out on some good red wine to boot. Okay, now I'm pouting.