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Lindsay: Supporting The Unbreakable Bonds Of Friendship

Submitted By: Paula Orth | Community Living London

Friendship means a bond between two people who enjoy spending time with each other, share interests and support each other. To Shawn, friendship means so much more.

Shawn met Derek in 2006 when he moved to his home community of London after living in an institution for several years. Derek supported Shawn in his home and was with him until he and his wife Karen moved to England in 2015 where his wife Karen had a wonderful employment opportunity. Over the course of their time together, Shawn and Derek developed a strong bond. They each recognized their commonalities and like-minded interests. Shawn was sad to see Derek go and refused to say goodbye. Instead, he said ‘see you later’ which was an important difference for Shawn. To him, goodbye meant permanence. “See you later” meant hope for the future. “Later” for Shawn came in many different ways.

Using the Personal Outcomes Measures®, Lindsay, a Direct Support Professional (DSP) supporting Shawn, spoke to Shawn about his goals and what he wanted from his relationship with Derek. Shawn made it very clear that to him, Derek was his friend. Lindsay contacted Derek to let him know that Shawn wanted to remain connected. Derek felt the same way. They explored with Shawn, ways that he would like to stay in touch. He said that he wanted to see Derek regularly. He understood that Derek lived far away, so they explored FaceTime as an option for communication. Shawn loved it. They started a journey of regular chats every Tuesday. Afterward Shawn would watch You Tube videos of all the places in England that Derek was describing on FaceTime. As time went on, Shawn told Derek he wanted to see him again. Lindsay asked Shawn how he wanted to see Derek. He said he wanted to go to England!

When Derek heard that Shawn wanted to come for a visit he thought it was an excellent idea. Unfortunately, their flat wasn’t big enough to accommodate company, so Derek made arrangements for Shawn and Lindsay to stay in a hotel just down the road. He booked time off work to host his friends visit.

Shawn and Lindsay spent hours exploring all the different things that he could do while he was in England. But Shawn had four simple requests: “see Derek, hear Big Ben chime, take a train and go to Paddington Station.”

On July 25th, 2016 Shawn and Lindsay boarded a plane destined for London, England and walked right up into the first class seats where Shawn enjoyed a 6.5 hour movie marathon across 5 time zones! He was too excited to sleep! The minute Shawn heard Derek’s voice in the airport he started to run! He was so happy that he was shaking in an effort to get to Derek faster! At that moment every ‘see you later’ Shawn and Derek shared over the year and half apart became a distant memory- Shawn and Derek were together again! Words cannot express the emotions around the first hug Shawn and Derek shared in the airport. Tears were shed by all when Shawn announced ‘Derek- I’m here!’

Over the next 6 days, Shawn toured England and spent every waking moment with Derek and his wife Karen. Shawn went to a castle built in the 1200s, went to a football match in Dartford, got lost in Central London on a double decker bus, took numerous train rides, listened to the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace, heard Big Ben chiming, did a salute on the Parade Grounds, had a pint in a pub, ate the best fish and chips around and of course, saw Paddington Bear at Paddington Station.

Above all else, if you ask Shawn what he liked most about England he laughs and states ‘drinking beer with Derek!’ The ride to the airport was bitter sweet and filled with many discussions and laughs around the stories and memories from the trip. When it came time to say goodbye, Shawn gave Derek a big hug and through his tears said ‘See you later Derek!’ This wasn’t a goodbye to Shawn, not at all. This was a promise that he would once again, see him later and did so the very next Tuesday over FaceTime.

Shawn has always had a way of capturing his experiences. He loves to have memories of special events in his life. This time, finding a meaningful way to hold onto these memories was going to be challenging. Shawn has had declining eyesight for several years. Approximately 6 months before going to England, Shawn completely lost his vision. This was a very uncertain and scary time for him. He and Lindsay explored ways that he could keep the memory of this trip alive. Shawn had an iPad. Videos were taken from the very beginning of the trip to the very end! Every heartwarming moment was caught on video for Shawn to listen to time and time again. Shawn went to bed each night listening to the sights and sounds of the events of his trip and reliving them all once again.

Personal Outcomes Measures® have been such an effective tool in valuing Shawn and his quality of life. Lindsay was able to explore with Shawn his definition of friendship and what Derek meant to him, Continuity and Security, Sharing Personal Goals, Realizing Personal Goals, Feeling Safe and so much more. Lindsay did an outstanding job of helping Shawn to not only have a voice in how he wants his life to look, but to actually walk side-by-side with him through an unforgettable journey. The Personal Outcome Measures® that I believe captures this adventure best; People are Respected.

When Shawn was asked if his story could be shared, he paused, and as his smile grew bigger, he shouted out a resounding “Yes!”

… Outcome Achieved!

2016 Direct Support Professional Recognition Week

This article is part of a campaign during the 2016 DSP Recognition Week, to acknowledge Direct Support Professionals who are helping people achieve their individually-defined outcomes, through the use of Personal Outcome Measures®. This campaign was developed through a partnership between CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership and The National Alliance For Direct Support Professionals (NADSP).