I witnessed something yesterday at the baseball game that really warmed my heart – and it needed warming.
In the same little ‘handicapped seating’ area where we were, there were also 3 adult men with significant and severe disabilities. With them were their caregivers, one for each gentleman. They appeared to be group home residents, but I don’t know what group home or what company runs the group home. But I wish I had asked.
Based on my own experience with group home staff, and based on what I have seen in my community, the people that get hired to support our most fragile family members are usually not well trained, and not very caring. The three ladies with the gentlemen were exceptions to that in a big way.
There were little things. The ladies would wash their hands with hand sanitizer between caring for or feeding each of the men. The men were all on pureed foods, most of which seemed about the same beige color. But the ladies told the men what they were eating and asked them if they liked it. The women chatted with the men during their meal even though none of the men could chat back. They made sure the men were clean after eating and would straighten their clothes, push hair out of their faces, all those little things that a person does for a loved one who needs assistance. The ladies made sure that the men’s wheelchairs were positioned both the keep the men out of the sun and to make sure they had a good view of the baseball game. They sang the ballpark songs and yelled ‘Charge’ when the rest of the stadium did. About half way through the game, they surprised the men with ice cream served in little baseball helmets.
There were also big things. One of the gentlemen was having a birthday yesterday. His nurse kept talking to him about that, singing the happy birthday song to him, and promised him she would try to catch a foul ball for him. A glimmer of a smile crossed his crooked face. My boys had seen a foul ball land just outside the ball park. They couldn’t go get it because they would not be allowed to re-enter the park. So we stopped a park employee, asked him to get the ball, and he agreed! The birthday fellow got his baseball, and his nurse wrote the date and ‘Happy Birthday’ on it for him. His glimmer of a smile got even bigger.
These were women who cared about their charges. They were professional and loving at the same time. There were respectful and obviously valued the men’s dignity. They had pet names for the gentleman, and were constantly patting an arm, squeezing a hand, and other little things to let the men know that they were there for them. In short, they were doing more than just a job – they were lovely, caring people and I was proud to have spent time with them and with the three gentleman.