Serving the Underserved: Caring for People Who Are Both Old and Mentally Retarded: A Handbook for Caregivers

By Mary C. Howell; Deirdre G. Gavin et al. | Go to book overview

9
THE STRUCTURE OF OUR WORK

Gerard Cabrera

In its three-year existence, the Kennedy Aging Project served a varied clientele and became a link in a network of service providers, scholars, and professionals that has crossed international boundaries.

The Kennedy Aging Project was always seen as a multi-purpose, multi-function endeavor. As a training project, it was intended to teach health professionals (including graduate students) about the needs and care of people who are old and mentally retarded. As a service project, the Interdisciplinary Team Evaluation Clinic was created to provide a holistic evaluation approach for our clients. Our goal was to take into account as many facets of the clients' lives as possible and to address their needs as comprehensively as we could. Maintaining function by the least restrictive and most appropriate means was one of our primary goals.

A process was set up to refer and assign clients to a faculty case manager and a student case worker. Referrals were made by telephone to the intake worker, who did a preliminary screening to ascertain the appropriateness of the referral: Could we do anything to help? Was the client's presenting problem one that could be related to aging and decline of function? Was the client diagnosed as being mentally retarded? The intake worker asked for preliminary information (birthdate, addresses, whether the client was a "class client" under the Consent Decrees approved by the federal court (see Chapter 19), what medications she was taking at the present, and finally, what did the caregivers expect and want as a result of the evaluation). After the preliminary intake interview, a questionnaire was mailed to the caregiver along with a release form to obtain records, and an appointment date was set. (See Appendix)

On the day of the initial visit, the client and caregivers met the faculty person and student to whom the case had been assigned and

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