Growing Up Special

Parents of Special Needs and Adopted Children Seeking Excellence

Archive for the ‘safety issues’ Category


Hospitalized Special Needs Individuals Need An Advocate

By Rainy on August 12th, 2011

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A friends recent experience with her adult special needs son’s hospitalization has made me realize just how important it is to have a family member serve as a patient advocate in the room 24/7.  Hospitals are busy places and it is easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of meeting patients needs.  Doctors are coming and going, technicians are running tests, lab workers must draw blood, nurses are administering medications and all of this busy work needs someone to co-ordinate and share information with staff and family members.  If your special needs loved one has problems understanding or communicating…this can be a problem.

Things can change pretty quickly when there is a medical emergency or illness.  It is important to receive the best care to have up to date information for both the staff and the family members.  How often do medications get changed, or medical devices need to be removed or hooked back up during a hospital stay? Providing personal care that your loved one may not want from the medical staff can mean more co-operation from your special needs patient.  Having a family advocate in the room can help ease discomfort if your patient is paired with a roommate who is NOT special needs.  These are all issues many people have not thought about.

Keeping a small notebook by the bed to write down any changes that occur during a change in staff shifts can be critical to making sure that your loved one receives the best care by making sure that everyone is on the same page.  You as the family member patient advocate knows your loved one the best.  You know what is normal for that person.  You know how they communicate, how they act, how well they understand questions and instructions…the hospital staff needs your input.

Because hospital stays can be lengthy…it is wise to have 2 or 3 people who are willing to rotate with you that you trust to stay in the room while your loved one is hospitalized.  This means that extra eyes and ears are available when the doctors, nurses, aides or technicians come in to discuss care with your patient.  Plan ahead and discuss these issues with other family members or trusted friends who have a good relationship with the patient and are willing to stand guard over them while they must be hospitalized…you won’t regret it. 

There are things you can do to help out the staff and make your special needs loved one more comfortable.  Just being there for moral support is important.  Keeping a trusted loved one nearby can help to keep the patient calm and co-operative when change occurs.  Take along hand-held video games, or stuffed animals or books or movies…anything that you know will help the hospital room to be as familiar and comfortable as possible.  As I said, you know your patient best…you know what works for them…maybe it is a certain kind of music that they like or that brings them comfort. 

Whatever you can do to reduce stress and stain will help your loved one to heal faster and get them back into their comfort zone as soon as possible.  Do you have suggestions for what works for you?







So Called Fight Club-Another Name For Abuse & Neglect

By Rainy on May 18th, 2009

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      I heard about a news item recently, it discussed an alleged criminal conduct case that is being investigated regarding some staff members of a residential home for the disabled.  The news report was talking about how the staff was alledgedly “bored” and encouraged/forced some of the residents to fight one another.  If that is true that they did this, then, that is not a fight club…it is abuse and neglect, and failure to protect.   There is supposed to be a video that was allegedly proves some of these accusations.   

      This, if proven to be accurate, is a criminal offense and charges will be forthcoming; hopefully, it will show those who were responsible for such actions against the disabled residents.  According to the news report, the residents did not want to fight one another…the small numer of staff are being accused of chasing some of the residents down the hallway and forcing them to fight one another.  Investigations take time, so it is important to not assume anything, just yet, regarding those rumored to be associated with this case.   However, residents deserve to be treated with respect and dignity; they should feel safe at all times. 

        These accusations, if they are proven true, are frightening to those of us who have disabled loved ones.  It is not easy to make the decision to place a loved one in a facility.  Once that decision is made, trust is a big factor in allowing yourself to have peaceful moments.  Most families do research, on available residences for the disabled; but, ultimately you have to go with your gut and trust that things are on the up and up…and that your loved one is safe.  You hope and pray that you are never proven wrong about trusting a facility and making a decision for placement.  Still, staff members come and go…I think it is wise to remember to follow up with periodic drop in visits…and, have conversations with your loved one, when it is possible, about the day-to-day operations in the place.

          No one can or will take care of your loved one exactly like you do.  However, it comes down to some  basic safety & caregiving facts.  Are the staff & residents carefully screened with criminal background checks?  Are there seperate secure residential rooms for those who have been violent in the past?  What precautions are taken to ensure physical and sexual safety for the residents?  Are they properly trained and geared towards delivering care with sensitivity?   Are there any complaints on file about the facility?  Is there enough staff on duty, at all times, to ensure that things are done correctly and safely?  Do they have an open door policy for family members?  What are the proper procedures for complaints, if an issue or question should come about regarding your loved one?  Are other residents screened for previous physical, and or, sexual abuse?  Are there cameras in the hallways?  Are there phones available for the resident’s use?  How does the staff interact with the residents?  Does your loved one ever express concern or fear about living in the facility? 

         I dont know about you…but, when i hear about stories of abuse or neglect in homes or residential placements for the disabled it makes me angry.  The disabled are one of the most vulnerable segments of our population and they should not have to be put through these kinds of situations.   There are some really great places for the disabled to live and when reports come out about the places that have exploited the disabled or endangered them; it is discouraging.   Have you ever had to place a loved one in a facility?  Do you have any words of advice to share with the readers on these issues?


Neglect or Failure To Protect-Who’s Responsible?

By Rainy on January 5th, 2009

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      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?

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