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

made a strong and complete recovery and has resumed his life in the community.

Not all people with mental retardation have such support systems. Many have families who are uninvolved. Many live in institutions or residences where the staff are too divided or too unmotivated to be strong advocates. And everywhere, people who are mentally retarded encounter others who are afraid of them, who pity them, or who simply don't know how to be with them.

We need to teach others how to be with them.


56
STAFF TRAINING IN ETHICS

Mary C. Howell and Richard J. Pitch

We found a great deal of enthusiasm, from both direct-care and professional staff at the Walter E. Fernald State School, for a proposed training project on the topic of ethical dilemmas that commonly arise in the course of giving care to adults with mental retardation. Most staff with whom we discussed the plan indicated that they didn't know very much about ethics, but they found the topic interesting and thought that it was important. They seemed to want a way to work out their experiences of difficult dilemmas in caregiving, and to be better able to sort out future decisions. Perhaps the three-year experience of the bimonthly Ethics Conference of the Kennedy Aging Project had whetted the appetite of staff for this teaching.

Our contemporary concern about ethics probably reflects two parallel cultural trends. The first is a growing interest in the importance of spirituality in our lives, an interest that makes us want to explore areas of thought and action that reflect our struggle to be spiritually aware and centered.

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