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

45
INTIMACY ISSUES OF CLIENTS AND CAREGIVERS

Bridget Bearss

In the Kennedy Aging Project I had the good fortune of working with clients, caregivers, service coordinators, program managers, and family members--the people who participate in the web known as the human service network. This term describes people who have chosen either directly or by the circumstances of their lives to work to create an environment that allows people to reach maximum wellness, and that encourages the development of an individual's full potential.

In my two years of listening, looking, and seeking to understand this secular service network, some patterns have come to seem relatively consistent. I have seen how relationships between caregivers and clients can make a difference. I have examined the stories from caregivers and clients, and the theoretical bases of relationships, and have come to understand how community forms because of relationships that encourage growth. Community is built and growth is encouraged when a connection of quality has been made between client and caregiver.


Intimacy

After listening to the stories of clients and caregivers, and observing the difference between community residences in which clients thrive and those that are less successful, I look upon the most positive situations as those achieving balance between communication and recognition of individual needs.

Communication in community residence is a process that must be rooted in honesty, openness, and dialogue. Communication between clients and caregivers creates an environment that fosters growth

-248-

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