Susie McGee and Bev Borgeson both work for Audrain Developmental Disability Services. Susie works as the Community RN - proving nursing care - and Bev is the Quality Assurance Coordinator, which according to Susie means she wears “many hats.”
They spoke about how the needs of the people they work with, who they call “consumers,” are changing.
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Susie: So many of our consumers, they have they have no one else. Their public administrator is their guardian, and we become their family.
And I tell that to a lot of the staff when they're starting out. They depend on you, as if you were their mother or their brother or their sister, and so - but I'm just amazed that they really do depend on us to be their family.
Bev: Yeah, that's always on my things with new staff too. Is talking to them about - that what we do, how we change their schedule, how we respond to them, how we come into work that day makes a difference in that person's life.
If we come in all grumpy or whatever, we could probably make everybody in there pretty grumpy. Just like we do at home.
Susie: Very much.
Bev: And I'm curious Susie, do you sometimes - I'm sure you do - feel like you have to advocate for our folks?
Susie: Oh, very much so.
They can't speak for themselves on a lot of issues. They didn't know that they had the ability to speak for themselves with um - there are 39 consumers that I'm responsible for - making sure that they have all their immunizations, all their doctors' appointments, their eye doctor, their dentist...
Bev: And one thing we talk about is the folks in our facilities right now are aging, and so as folks age, just like you and I, we have different health issues and different problems, different stability issues, and so you probably more problems to deal with than somebody might have 20 years ago.
Susie: Just because they have of any kind of developmental disability -OCD or ADHD or Down syndrome or a traumatic brain injury or cerebral palsy or mental retardation - they still have other medical issues - diabetes, hypertension.
Things that you have to monitor - blood pressures for the hypertensions, blood sugars for the diabetes. It keeps you busy. It keeps you busy.
Bev: It's gonna be a whole new or there are whole new issues coming to us.
Susie: As you see changes in people too, you see staff go, "Well, we're not equipped to take care of them," and well then we're going to learn how to take care of them.
We'll get Hoyer lifts and wheelchairs and whatever we need.
Bev: And just like in our own homes. You know, we change up our homes - we get a Hoyer lift and wheelchair and whatever to take care of our loved ones. So we're doing the same thing.
Susie: So our staff have to become more educated on taking care of the elderly, but like Bev said, everyone does get older, and some of our consumers have been here for 30 years.
They've, you know, they worked. Now they no longer able to work, they've kind of like semi-retired.
But we have to think about, as our population ages, where are we going with them? Will they go to nursing homes? Will they go back to their home homes? I doubt that. We will have them until their passing.