I was disturbed this past week by a news report of a special needs student who was left on his special needs bus. The bus aide allegedly knew, according to news reports, that the student had fallen asleep on the bus but allegedly didn’t notify the bus driver. It was reported that the aide was late for church or some appointment and didn’t take measures to ensure that the student was delivered to his destination. That student was left on a freezing cold bus for over 19 hours without relatives knowing where he was. If those accusations are proven to be true…it is unacceptable…both morally and legally.
The student ended up being hospitalized because of the temperatures that he was exposed to while on that bus overnight on New Year’s Eve. The family of this student was both horrified and outraged. The student is on the mend…but, there may be residual fear that that student has to struggle with.
In those kinds of situations…the disabled are at the mercy of the person who is responsible for their care in those moments. The thing is…as a parent…you really have to rely on the personal responsibility and the integrity of the caregiver’s value system. Will they care for your loved one in a safe and caring way, as you yourself would? How do you ensure that your loved one is properly taken care of in your absence?
When you leave your special person in the care of others you have to be convinced of that individual’s competancy. When that caregiver fails to protect or neglects to provide safe and appropriate care…who is responsible? Is it the individual…the agency, school, or system that they work for? It is accountability that helps to prevent devastating situations from taking place.
I think a big part of the equasion is that you develop a close and personal relationship with the care provider. You try to make sure that there are checks and balances set up to hold people accountable. The bus situation could be avoided if there is a system that does a final check of each bus seat before the aids/drivers leave the bus at the end of a shift. Alot of school systems have a check list…the bus drivers and aides must complete a walk thru of the bus before finally putting a sign on the bus window or door that verifys that the bus is free of any riders when the aides/drivers leave that bus.
This was a horrible story; but, it is also an experience to learn from. Any real life situations that you could share that would help another family?
The plans had been laid for weeks. Michael Birdsong would spend a few days of his Christmas holiday with us, his parents. Every day the phone calls got more intense as we discussed the menu, the sleeping arrangements, the time of the church service…
When the big day arrived for him to come home we arrived at his sheltered workshop right on time. His suitcase was near the door, as was he, greeting us with wild anticipation for his big, exciting, excellent adventure.
Ah, but the fly in the ointment was that Michael Birdsong was NOT wearing his glasses. When I asked him about them, he turned pale, because he had no clue where they were. Worse, he panicked at his imaginative idea that his forgetfulness might mean missing out on his Christmas trip!
His staff was sure those specs must be around the workshop someplace…but upon searching, none could be produced. We loaded the suitcase, and Michael, and drove off. He was very quiet on the ride home.
We had a lovely holiday, the menu suited everybody, the decorations were to their liking and the candlelight service on Christmas Eve produced tears of joy for all. Even the weather was cooperative.
We returned him to his Group Home, with the admonition that he and his staff should surely find those glasses. By now, the staff was sure they were at another workshop. Or, it was suggested, they might be in another van. OR…they COULD even be in that disastrous bedroom, which was almost bad enough for the City of York to condemn! But no one would know definitively until the room was THOROUGHLY cleaned.
Did I mention Michael Birdsong is not your average neatnik? Not even close!
His State Services Coordinator got involved in the search. Everyone on the administrative staff was on the hunt…for a whole week those glasses had not appeared! The agency was worried about having to buy another pair of glasses. SO WAS MICHAEL BIRDSONG, with good reason.
Some brave staff member, Jeanie, took it upon herself to oversee the cleaning of that bedroom. No telling what they might find, eyeglasses notwithstanding. The job could not be finished in one day, so when Linda came in on Day Two, she and Michael finally got everything clean. Well, he still had an old, unused prosthesis, but they did manage to stash that on the van so it could go to the maker to be recycled for parts!
Yes. They DID, indeed, find the missing glasses. Everyone at the agency and everyone in Michael’s family, especially Michael, heaved a collective sigh of relief. You may have heard it.
His glasses were on the counter in the bathroom!
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