We started services, under “agency model” with the new agency we were referred to by our son’s Support Coordinator. Until the new “Direct Service Professional” (DSP rather than SSP) is able to get through the volunteer process at our local health system, we opted to have them go out for a couple community days each week, bowling, shopping for personal items/Christmas gifts and to have lunch.
Everything seemed to be going well. My son told her she was a “keeper.” As with years past, he took 2 weeks off for Christmas, while his Dad is home. We would have been returning to volunteering Jan. 4, provided the volunteer process moved along without a hitch.
This week I heard from the DSP. Apparently there was another orientation required in the department where my son volunteers, in addition to the overall orientation for the hospital. It couldn’t be done on Jan. 4 when they came in because there wouldn’t be someone available to conduct the orientation, so they decided to postpone them starting until Jan. 11. I was leaving for a doctor appointment when I got this text.
When we initially met with the manager from the new agency, she reassured me that she would be taking over all the coordination between agency and health system, managing the DSP, etc. All I had to do was sign the time sheets verifying that she’d worked. I provided the manager with contact information for the adult volunteer coordinator.
The DSP texted me on Tuesday telling me “My schedule is completely booked with family next week and can’t do it next week… so hopefully we can start without it.” She then texted me later that night saying “Everything is good to go on January 4th… I can do my orientation that day when he goes back.” I asked how that would work, if my son would attend with her. She said she didn’t know, they didn’t say.
She went on, the next day, to share an email from the coordinator of adult volunteer services that indicated “Environmental Services cannot accommodate a department orientation on Jan 4th and requested that he start back the following week on Tuesday, Jan. 11th.”
The DSP said if you have any questions you can call volunteer services, … as if I need to be told that.
Later that day the DSP indicated she wanted to start using her car to drive my son on his community outing days because she thinks waiting for the bus is a “waste of time and it can be cold sitting or standing out in the cold.”
I got a call from the coordinator of volunteer services who said she was getting emails from the DSP that made her think there was some confusion so she wanted to make sure I knew what was happening. The coordinator explained that there would not be staff from the department available on the 4th to conduct the orientation, but there would be on the 11th. The orientation was about 15 minutes long to show them where to keep their things while working and where to get supplies they would need while working. She also said the DSP couldn’t start until she provided her State Police Clearances, that she’d indicated she had them, but had not provided them to the hospital yet. I explained to the coordinator, again, that I was not managing the DSP, that her agency manager was.
I shared this info with the DSP and her manager. I also asked again that the manager coordinate with the hospital, as she’d promised to do. As for the question about driving my son, I would think about it. I told them if they wanted to discuss anything I’d be out, at back to back dental appointments until 4:30.
Sometime between 2:30 and 3:00 I was in the waiting room at the dentist’s office when my phone rang. It was the agency manager. She said she was glancing at texts while driving and wanted to know what was going on. I recounted for her what the volunteer coordinator had said and that I’d hoped she was going to reach out to volunteer services to introduce herself, as she’d indicated.
When I got home there was a text from the DSP. She’d emailed the volunteer coordinator: “Did you speak with SM mom: She sends me this text with a indication of it’s me that we can’t start? Even though I screen shot your email to her. I told her if she had any questions to call you.”
To say I was appalled and embarrassed would be an understatement. Rather than asking me for clarification, she contacted a (third party) professional with her interpretation of my words, something that should never happen. I’d not said anything remotely close to assigning blame for the change. The volunteer coordinator had clearly explained how things had played out, I’d told her that she’d clarified things well.
The only person who’d suggested any responsibility for the delay was with the DSP was the DSP herself when she’d texted me to say “My schedule is completely booked with family next week and can’t do it next week… ”
I had told both the DSP and her manager that I didn’t want to know anything about their family issues, as it’s not my concern, especially now that I’m no longer the managing employer.
As for the issue of driving my son, I contacted his support coordinator to confirm that I understood the process regarding my son’s ISP correctly. My understanding is that his outcomes clearly include riding public transportation, an ISP meeting would have to be called to change his outcomes before that could happen. She told me that my son would have to request the change, what the DSP wanted was irrelevant. She could have her opinion, but that’s all it is. The ISP reflects what my son wants and needs. The agency manager said that the DSP was offered the position knowing riding the bus was a requirement, she can’t come along now and have a problem with it.
We thought we’d found the answer, this new agency, agency model, that they would handle all the coordination, managing the DSP, etc. The DSP had experience, seemed to be ready to work with us, seemed agreeable to the arrangements, but now we feel like we’re experiencing deja vu. Only a couple weeks into services and here we are again, more stress, anxiety, confusion, and this time I’m faced with knowing the DSP is not above throwing the parent under the bus with another professional organization rather than discussing things with the parent. Just what I need… (sarcasm).
At my doctor appointment, she suggested that the light headedness, nausea, diarrhea and headaches I’ve been experiencing are stress related. She said my elevated blood pressure, and sugar could also be stress induced. She suggested trying to remove some of the things causing stress, especially seeing as how my heart attack 2 years ago today was stress related.
I’m feeling totally done. I had such high hopes for this situation. I just want to have someone work with my son that I can trust, who will be thinking of him, not themselves when out with him. It’s disappointing that this DSP is already complaining that he needs to be open to going different places, doing different things, when we know he learns through repetition and his social anxiety makes him uncomfortable with new places and people. Once volunteering begins again, he’ll only have one community day to plan for, so if he wants to go to the same place, do the same things, that’s his prerogative, as he is practicing skills to maintain them.