Creative Problem-Solving is a Daily Challenge for Caregivers
A caregiver’s job at Casmir Care Services involves creative problem-solving.
Being responsible for individuals with intellectual disabilities often may involve modifying certain behaviors or defusing situations before they escalate.
One individual in the residential community likes collecting bags. Not just any plastic store bag, but the complimentary bags that are fancier than normal. Every time she goes somewhere, she’ll collect more bags and bring them home.
The downside, said Daisy Williams, a direct care professional with Casmir Care’s Community Residential Homes, is that individual has hoarding tendencies. So there’s a fine line between recognizing what brings a person joy and trying to keep a living space uncluttered.
That means Daisy can let her shop. But she must somehow limit the resident’s stuff. It might be okay to get three bags one day as long as they get rid of five upon getting home. But the individual didn’t want to do her own decluttering.
To avoid conflict over the need to toss bags out, Daisy sought to avoid confrontation that could create stress. Instead she takes a rather creative approach to manage the clutter. She will sometimes rearrange the resident’s bedroom while she’s away. That way, when the individual comes back, she can enjoy a neat room.
But before Daisy makes any changes to a room, she makes sure the individual has some say in what happens by making a light suggestion like: “I think it’s a good time to look around your room and see what direction we want to put the bed in.” Then the individual will say, “Alright Daisy, you do it while I’m in school.”
Daisy will actually get rid of those five bags when she rearranges the decor. And afterwards, everyone is happy with the change in layout. “I have to be creative a lot to make them think that most of it was their idea,” said Daisy.
As it turns out, the resident always gets excited in a good way when her room gets changed. And asking her whether she wants her room rearranged gives her some say in the matter.
Sometimes the creative problem-solving involves teaching someone something new. Another individual supported by Casmir likes getting her hair braided. But the texture of her hair doesn’t hold a braid all that well, because she is Caucasian. While this individual always thinks she can have the same hair styles as Daisy, who is African American, sometimes attempts at the same braids make her hair break.
To show how hard it was to braid this individual’s hair, Daisy bought a doll head with the same type of hair for this resident to braid. And sometimes Daisy says she would cut a braid before she gave the head back to her. When this resident went to take the doll’s braid out, a chunk of the hair would come out.
“I tell you,” said Daisy. “I can be creative.”
Daisy saw the doll’s head as a way to let the individual learn for herself how a braid might not work all that well in a type of hair. In the end, she understood that it’s not a big deal that the braids don’t “work” on the doll. It’s just the way it is.
The best part of this exercise was that it made her stop asking to get her hair in braids all the time. She was able to accept that not all hairstyles would work with her hair.
In any given day, direct care professionals need to solve problems and call upon their creativity as they work with the community’s residents to create win-win situations, using empathy and compassion to work around each individual’s needs.
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