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Why a Facility?

by David Wetherow

"I would like to have my own facility for about two residents...."

Dear M,

bulletWhy a facility?
bulletWhy residents?
bulletWhy two?

As a parent, what I would like to hear is this:

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"I would like to share my life with Mary.  I met her about six months ago when I was visiting people in ____. Since then, I've introduced her to two of my friends and three members of my family, and there are a number of people who will be glad to help me create a new life for her in the community.

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"Mary and I talked for a long time about how we might share a home. I've gotten to know her history, her interests, the things she yearns for, the things she worries about.

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"We share a lot of interests. Both of us love to garden, and Mary loves to paint. I've introduced her to a friend of mine who is an artist. Jenny will connect her to other friends who are artists, and will share a bit of studio space with her.

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"My church is supporting me. Three people from my church have come with me to visit Mary in ____. They've said that they will back me up in this, not only by welcoming her and including her in the small groups, but by being available to help out in practical ways if I get sick or have to be away for family emergencies, etc.

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"I've met with her family on several occasions. She's been disconnected from her brother and sisters for many years, and they're beginning to re-weave those connections. One sister lives in the same town as I do, and she says that she'll be glad to visit us at least monthly, and that Mary can visit at her house from time to time. Mary really loves her nephews and nieces, and loves the idea of being an aunt.

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"We've struggled with some big questions - how we will work together to find places where she can contribute to the community, what we will do if she becomes very ill, and how we'll ensure continuity if something happens to me. We don't have all of this worked out, but her family, my family, and my church are all committed to resolving these questions over time.

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"We're also working on questions of what we'll do in the event of conflict. I want to make sure that if she and I start feeling unhappy with each other, that it doesn't result in her losing her place in our community and returning to _____. Pastor Bob from the church has said that he'll be there to help us work through difficult times, and we're also thinking about back-up plans in case we might need to be apart for a while.

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"Jack and Alice, who are members of our local self-advocacy group, have come with us to meet Mary in ____, and they invited her to become a member of their group. The SA group is also willing to join us in meetings with government, the local ARC, and so on.

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"Sarah, one of the women at church, happens to be a member of our local Lions Club. When she heard about Mary's interest in volunteering, she thought about several Lions' projects where Mary might play a role. Mary will come with us on our next visit to ____."

Now that sounds like a lot, but it contains many of the elements necessary to create a good life for Mary and for yourself. Following this path, you're not alone. Your home remains a home (for both of you), and not a 'facility'. Mary is not a 'resident', but a known and loved member of a community. You are not a caretaker, but a care-giver.

Now none of us start out there. The path I described is made by walking, one small step at a time. It is a path of small invitations, small discussions, thoughtful detective work and introspection.

The very first step on this path is when you think to yourself, and when you say to someone else, "I would like to share my life with someone."

At first, you may not even know who that person would be (that may be part of the detective work). At first, you may not be connected to an extended community - the church, extended family members, the artist (that will become part of the work of invitation).

But if you are willing to live with these questions, if you are really willing to explore this path, I will put you in touch with specific people in ____ who will help you (Faye and I met with them in June).

Warmly,

David Wetherow

 

2003 David and Faye Wetherow ! CommunityWorks

 
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