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

3
Foreword
Peter O'Meara, Superintendent, The Walter E. Fernald State SchoolAs we reflect on the contribution of the Kennedy Aging Project to the Walter E. Fernald State School over the last three years, it is clear that Mary Howell and her staff created an environment in which we had an opportunity to learn and to increase our sensitivity on issues of aging in our society, especially with regard to citizens with mental retardation.We at Fernald were fortunate to be the home of the Kennedy Aging Project. A striking change has occurred in these short years. Our values and attitudes about the rights of our senior citizens are changing. We recognize the imperative of their rights to lead a dignified life and to be recipients of services supportive of their individual emotional and physical needs.The Kennedy Aging Project has helped us to learn, in an innovative forum, that
A person who is old has the right to remain, if possible, in a familiar environment with familiar staff and peers.
It is important to develop values about our citizens who are old that recognize the individuality and uniqueness of each; this must be the cornerstone of a service delivery plan.
Rigidity in program models and systems is always counterproductive.
In spirituality, a bond exists between our senior residents and ourselves that must not be taken for granted, a lesson we learned through the efforts and sharing of Fr. Henry Marquardt.
Our success in meeting the needs of our clients is rooted in the way the larger system and society perceive the needs of those who are old; we have a responsibility to share values with the broader community.

-5-

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