Thursday, May 28, 2015

An Afternoon at the Movies: It continues

Part 2:

The movie started. Once the woman next to me was finished with being helped to eat. The support worker with her jumped up and went over and sat with the staff at the other end of the row. Left alone, the woman soon began very low sounds. These sounds over a 5 or 10 minute period became louder and louder. Eventually they were loud enough for her staff to come back to her and sit with her for a few minutes. She quietened down immediately. After three or four minutes of quiet, the staff ran back to her seat beside her co-worker and then, shortly, the low sounds began again. This went on through the entire movie.

I was not bothered by the sounds the woman was making. I was, however, bothered to distraction by the behaviour of her staff. The pattern was so clear. Sitting alone ... low noises becoming louder. Sitting with someone ... no noise at all. Alone -noise. Not alone - quiet. I don't know this woman, I don't know what her disability is or what kind of support needs she has. But I do know that her sounds meant, 'Please sit with me, I don't like being alone here.' It was as clear as any communication I have ever seen from even speaking people.

I had already had a confrontation with the coworker for pulling her phone out, letting it's bright light shine throughout the theatre. I asked her to put her phone away. In fact I asked several times for her to put her phone away. Finally she turned the phone to me, showing me only bright light, and said, "It's not a phone! Now watch the movie.!!" She still saw me as a person with a disability whom she had a natural right to order around. I said, again, "Turn off your phone!" She did. I was aware that this interchange had interrupted the movie for others. I didn't, now, want to start a fight with the other staff for using abandonment as a staffing approach.

On the way out I saw the staff who ran back and forth between the seat beside the woman who wanted company and her co worker. I spoke to her. I asked which agency she worked for. When I told her, in answer to her question, that I wanted to report terrible support for people with disabilities. She started to speak about her co-worker, who was in the bathroom with the person she was with, and that she was just trying to help me find a seat.

She looked shocked when I told her that the person I wanted to report was her. I told her that she abandoned a woman who clearly wanted her to sit with her. I told her that she was not paid to go to the movie with the co-worker but to be with and provide support for the woman she supported. "Didn't you hear her call out for you, over and over again?" She became flustered and started to answer using nonsense words.

I realized that we were blocking the pathway and people couldn't get in or out of the theatre. I left. Joe rushed forward saying, "Maybe we'll see a wheelchair van in the parking lot with the name of the organization one it."


There it was.

Parked next to us.

(continues tomorrow)


Maggie said...

Glad you confronted her. Can't wait to see what happens next. Hoping to learn from your example how I can confront, report, or perhaps even change such behavior.

But, oh, Dave, how sorry I am that your afternoon at the movies was so ... so ...

Well. I don't have a word that seems adequate.

Anonymous said...

Uh oh . . . you mean the STAFF has met up with a person who speaks "Agency-ese?" Sounds like an espionage plot!!! I mean, what if every disabled person got to know that language and actually learned how to use that system to their advantage - anarchy would ensue!!!

sandi said...

Oh! I'm all kinds of angry and upset for the distressed movie goer. How awful! That support worker should be ashamed - both of them should. What disrespect!

CapriUni said...

There are two definitions of the word "Care."

The first is "To provide comfort to."

The second is: "Worry, or trouble" (As in: 'I haven't a care in the world')

Too many staff are "Care Givers" for the wrong kind of care...

Colleen said...

Not only was she treating the woman she supports with disrespect, she was showing everyone else in that theatre that she did not think this woman was worthy of respect or companionship. And then we wonder why people are so isolated!

Dave, I'm glad you confronted her.

clairesmum said...

Oh my....sounds like your trip to the movies turned into an advocacy experience...not what you had in mind,. I'm glad you and Joe were there, hoping this story ends with the person with disability (sorry if that is not the politically correct term, please correct me if I have inadvertently offended) having more compassionate staff who work FOR her. How sad to be communicating your distress and be abandoned over and over again!

AnyBeth said...

At the same Christmas party I mentioned in the last entry, the staff member (or support worker) was there helping two people, and obviously much nicer to one than to the other. The dis-preferred client was calmer when he was moving. Staff-guy insisted he sit down, stay still, and relax. But he could sit still or he could relax but not both. He tried sitting fairly still but moving just a little bit in the chair. For the crime of not sitting still enough at a party where sitting wasn't required, staff-guy proceeded to threaten him with medication and loss of privileges after the party.
There was a gift exchange. Staff-guy had brought one gift that was owned by neither person he was supporting. The preferred client got a gift, the dis-preferred one didn't (or wouldn't have until I offered his choice of the multi-part gift I got).
And there was a time he went off to chat in another part of the building for 20-30 minutes after he helped preferred client to the bathroom. Of course, dis-preferred client needed to go but wasn't allowed because staff-guy was busy.
He was pretty good to one client but absolutely horrible to the other man. I was disgusted. (My eyes well up with tears on recounting it.) I wish I'd known what to do.

Anonymous said...

That is so sad. I know how it is, if you have to rely on other people and I am very scared that I will reach a time when I will be totaly dependend on help from such "carers".


Antonia Lederhos Chandler said...

"Please sit with me, I don't like being alone here." I agree. That's what she was saying. It sounds like the staff were trying to make her "more independent," but against her will.