We-are-all-vulnerable-to-breakdowns-in-our-personal-values

Vulnerabilities of Caregivers – John J. McGee

“Although our vulnerabilities and the external threats to our wellbeing are in many ways nothing compared to those of the persons whom we serve, it is important that we recognize our own before dealing further with the vulnerabilities of those whom we serve.

We are all vulnerable to breakdowns in our personal values. Sometimes these can be due to how we feel and what we are experiencing within ourselves; at other times we can be part of a system that makes it harder for us to respond to our shared values. If a caregiver is afraid of being hurt, he/she then becomes more likely to use restraint to control violent behaviors. Or, if a caregiver is depressed, then it is extremely hard to bring joy to others. If we are being beaten and de-valued at home, it is hard to bring non-violence into someone else’s home.

John J. McGee’s “Mending Broken Hearts” CPLS Newsletter

Many of our vulnerabilities are worsened by lack of adequate training and hands-on supervision. Some caregivers are quite isolated and seldom have the opportunity to discuss their problems and search for new responses to challenging situations. It is critical that caregivers recognize their weaknesses and find ways to overcome them. Community leaders need to listen to caregivers and find ways to offer support and encouragement.

Caregivers need to find their own self-worth from themselves, talking frequently, sharing their anxieties, and pointing out their goodness. Our own worth has to be generated from within ourselves. We need to form strong communities.

The question of burnout seems to be always present. Some caregivers give up and attribute their burnout to poor supervision, working in violent settings, receiving little guidance, or low pay. Since we are not only teaching feelings of companionship, but also a sense of community, it is important for caregivers to look at themselves, question their reality, and search for ways for themselves to feel safer, more engaged, and more valued. The first step in this is to step back and examine those things that make us vulnerable.

Let us take a moment to reflect on these aspects of our lives — recognizing these will help us understand better the needs of those whom we serve.”

 

~Excerpt from John J. McGee’s “Mending Broken Hearts” — CPLS Newsletter.

 

Gentle-Teaching-has-become-a-main-part-of-my-life

I love the leader that COR and gentle teaching has enabled me to become!

Gentle Teaching has become a main part of my life. During my university career, I have done many presentations and projects based on gentle teaching because it applies to so many different areas of study; whether it be Psychology or Kinesiology and Health Studies. As Assistant Home Team Leader, I dedicated most of my support times (and outside support times) to making sure the people I support are physically healthy. I continue to do activities to keep the guys active and engaged, but allow them to decide which activities are right for them! I pre-cook and freeze meals so that it is easily accessible for the rest of the team. This is done so that supports aren’t tempted to buy unhealthy food! Since this started, I have continued to encourage others on the team to do the same as well. As a result, the team has all begun to contribute to grocery shopping and cooking wholesome meals. This was not so they could be “fit” or “skinny”, but to better compliment one’s overall quality of life. I am a strong believer in how physical health affects one’s mental health, thus my pursuit of a masters degree in sport and exercise psychology.

what I learned at COR

Although I recently stepped down as Assistant Home Team Leader, I have continued to keep many of the same responsibilities. The title of ATL was not my motivation to be a leader! I will continue to be passionate about caring for the people I support, as that is the foundation of Gentle Teaching. Their companionship and presence in my life is enough to want to help with the quality of it. COR has shown me that I am capable of my own academic accomplishments. Sport and Exercise Psychology is not popular in Canada just yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t continue to follow my interests and turn them into my passion. Even though I have stepped down from my ATL role, supports still contact me when certain issues arise; they still want to hear my advice and experience. I love this! For the first time, I feel like I am a mentor. I like knowing it is not my leadership status that motivates them to ask me for help. I feel as though they ask because they know I am effective at solving problems while still keeping one’s emotions in mind. It has become a very empowering experience. I love the leader that COR and Gentle Teaching has enabled me to become!

 

Kyla, COR Support

Gentle Teaching has become a main part of my life

Being WITH one another is one of the main lessons I have grown to appreciate since being introduced to Gentle Teaching.

Being WITH one another is one of the main lessons I have grown to appreciate since being introduced to Gentle Teaching.

Often when I have the chance to catch up with somebody I have not seen for a while, the question always seems to pop up: “So, where are you working these days?”. This is a funny question for me to answer because when you truly find something that you are passionate about and enjoy doing on a daily basis, it’s no longer considered work – this is how Gentle Teaching has transformed me as a person. After graduating high school, I soon found myself at a job that did not offer any growth for myself as an individual. A cooking job that provided forty hours a week, but had me asking myself if this is really how I want to spend the next however many years of my life, at a job where I simply show up for a nine to five shift, then go home. I can imagine that I was among millions of people who couldn’t wait to be done work to get home and relax, dreading the thought of having to go back the next day. I needed a change, especially knowing that I had much more inside of me than that. COR was an option that I had considered applying for, but was ambiguous about at first. It’s the type of organization that was very unfamiliar to me solely because I was one of many who had the common attitude that people with a disability may be seen as troublesome and based my perception on the idea of their “behaviour”. I took a blind leap into Gentle Teaching and soon realized that a critical part of this culture of gentleness is shedding these beliefs and valuing people for who they are. Now, two years later, I have found myself buried so deep in the lives of the individuals I serve that the thought of not seeing them throughout the week is unnerving.

With COR, I now find myself getting lost in the moment with these individuals that I can honestly call my friends, forgetting about time all-together. From being part of a fast paced, aggressive work environment in the past, to now being a part of a community that practices Gentle Teaching in every aspect in life is truly a blessing. Gentle Teaching has helped me focus on building a sense of companionship and community with those that I serve and that there is no nine to five shift when it comes to being involved in others lives. The relationships you create and maintain with others directly revolves around the time you invest with them, being WITH one another is one of the main lessons I have grown to appreciate since being introduced to Gentle Teaching. This philosophy is truly something special, something you can’t just turn on or off when it fits. I believe it’s the unconditional compassion for others in which we all have inside of us.

 

Sawyer, COR Support

 

"Gentle Teaching has pushed me to be the best support and friend possible"

"Gentle Teaching has pushed me to be the best support and friend possible"

I believe I am naturally a very gentle, loving and empathetic person, which made Gentle Teaching an easy concept and philosophy for me to grasp. I remember looking at the COR website before applying and thinking that being employed with this organization would be so rewarding, as I would just have to follow and build off of my values. With additional trainings on the philosophy of Gentle Teaching, I’ve been able to maintain a culture of gentleness within the team of individuals I support by valuing them for who they are and consistently showing them my love and gratitude for our friendships.

I believe that I am able to maintain a culture of gentleness

Gentle Teaching has certainly pushed me to be the best support and friend possible. The moments in which the Gentle Teaching philosophy and its effect on my growth as a support and individual become most notable to me, are in the moments of conflict. Of course it is easy to be calm and loving when things are going well, but the real test of self lies in times of challenge. I believe that I am able to maintain a culture of gentleness within times of adversity by continuing to offer positive regard, unconditional love, and acceptance. I challenge myself to always make sure that my words, presence, hands, and gaze, display a sense of love and compassion, with an honest desire to help.

I look forward to continuing and building off of the friendships I’ve made at COR for the rest of my life. When supporting, I am constantly reminded of how lucky I am to be in the presence of such wonderful individuals. This only enhances my aspirations of becoming a Gentle Teaching advocate within my support role, as well as within the health region.

 

Marie-Claire, COR Support

 

Gentle Teaching has taught me that devotion is one of the best tools for teaching.

"Gentle Teaching has taught me that devotion is one of the best tools for teaching."

Gentle Teaching is not only valuable to apply with individuals that one supports, but is a wonderful approach for all relationships . It has transformed how I view others in my daily life. Gentle Teaching allows me to think more optimistically towards everyone. It has made me more positive by allowing me to see through people’s flaws and see their past experiences that bring out colourful emotions in high stress situations.

Gentle Teaching has taught me to reflect on how life experience affect how people see themselves and in turn how they act. Poor experiences can affect the way individuals value themselves, develop relationships and deal with conflict. Maintaining this mindset outside of supporting has enhanced the way I interact with others and improved my ability to accept others for who they are. In order to understand a person, one needs to know where they came from. In order to do that, listening and interpreting words is essential for that understanding.

Gentle teaching has taught me that devotion is one of the best tools for teaching

Gentle teaching has taught me that devotion is one of the best tools for teaching. Being devoted to a person is to actively show them that you are a part of their journey and are there to help. Whether it be with my girlfriend, family, my nieces and nephews, my friends or even my dog showing genuine friendliness and enthusiastic support in good moments has a stronger impact than punishing or dwelling on downbeat moments. Letting go of negatively charged moments and using them as teaching moments and celebrating little victories shows a person that you are devoted to their growth and you can grow healthily together. Devotion allows for trust and relationships to grow.

Active listening skills can be improved constantly throughout a person’s life. Working on them continually has improved my communication. Active listening requires not simply hearing what someone says, but hearing their message, the emotion evoked and also paying attention to what is not being said. It has taught me that when people are upset there is at times a deeper issue troubling them. Past trauma speaks through people in times of stress and unresolved negative experiences can often cause people to live in clouds of pain.

Gentle Teaching has caused me to reflect on my own past and consider how I may hold pain from experiences. Recognizing how trauma has affected myself allows me to let go and move on to become a better version of myself. Self reflection has allowed me to think rather than react to situations. Being self aware is key for anyone to grow and live a healthy life and it is constant. Self care and mental health are essential for healthy bodies. Being honest with myself about trauma has allowed me to become a person that is ready to reach out and support others around me. Being comfortable with oneself is very important before someone loans them self to others for support.

 

Jacob, COR Support

 

A culture of gentleness for me has come naturally by genuinely caring for the three gentlemen I serve.

A culture of gentleness for me has come naturally by genuinely caring for the three gentlemen I serve.

A culture of gentleness for me has come naturally by genuinely caring for the three gentlemen I serve. Since I started at COR almost one year ago I have created relationships with the three guys I serve that without a doubt will last a lifetime. Being able to care for someone on a daily basis and watch them grow as people has been one of the most professionally satisfying accomplishments to date. Watching the look on the guys faces while they do things they love can turn even the worst of days around in a heart beat.

i-strongly-believe-the-culture-of-gentleness-is-created-by-those-who-we-serve

I would have to say I more so reciprocate a culture of gentleness however. To say I create a culture of gentleness would minimize the amount of caring that these individuals show us who come in to serve them. The three guys I support have some of the biggest hearts I have ever met. They will share what ever it is they have with out batting an eye. I strongly believe the culture of gentleness is created by those who we serve.

 

Danny, COR Support

 

Gentle Teaching isn’t about trying to change behaviour…

Through my 3 and a half years of experience with COR and the philosophy of Gentle Teaching, I have attained a wealth of knowledge and an everlasting impact on my life. When I first started with COR, just like most people, I was a bit skeptical of the whole ideology of unconditional love. In latent terms, I perceived it as ‘give them whatever they want’ or ‘they can do whatever they want without consequences’. At the time, I failed to realize it was so much more than that. The whole basis of Gentle Teaching isn’t trying to change the individual’s behaviour, but rather changing our approach on how we serve the individuals.

My ability to use Gentle Teaching had never really been challenged until I began supporting at a new home and more specifically supporting one individual at that home. When I began, to be 100 percent honest, I was quite nervous. I had heard all the stories that this was the hardest team to support on. To my surprise, it really wasn’t! I got off to a good start with two of the guys. The only one I hadn’t connected with was one of the guys. Every time I would enter his space or try to interact with him, he would completely shut me down. This really bugged me personally. I am the type of person who really likes to get along with everybody, and at times, will over step boundaries to be liked by that person. This happened one day when I was supporting him. I came in that day with what I thought was a solid game plan. I was going to force myself to stay with him, we were really going to joke around and have an awesome time together. I also had the idea to take him to a Rider practice that day thinking it was going to be an amazing experience. I was completely wrong. Sure, he enjoyed the idea of going to Rider practice and seeing all his favourite players, but he still didn’t feel safe around me. I struggled to interpret what he was saying numerous times throughout the day and it led to numerous negative moments, the worst being at the Rider practice where he hit me. After that day, I came to realize that by forcing myself to be in his space, I had removed one of the most fundamental and most important pillars of Gentle Teaching; feeling safe.

They have taught me if I adjust how I provide care and unconditionally love them, rather than force them to be who they are not, that they will reciprocate it back in their way

In order to fix this, I needed to change how I provided care, while also trying to encompass the tools of Gentle Teaching to build the four pillars. For the next couple of months, I took a step back and really focused on observing, rather than forcing myself into situations for my own personal reasons. I was selective and patient in choosing the times that were appropriate to help strengthen his sense of feeling safe around me. Most of these interactions were focused around watching sports games or going out to grab a drink from 7/11. I tried keeping the interactions short and consistent allowing him to become comfortable around me. As time passed, I was able to get him to feel safe by changing how I provided for him. Once I had the sense of feeling safe around me, the other three pillars (feeling loved, feel loving towards others, and feeling engaged) came much more naturally.

Through my experience with all the individuals I support, they have had an everlasting impact on my life. They have taught me if I adjust how I provide care and unconditionally love them, rather than force them to be who they are not, that they will reciprocate it back in their way.

 

Brydon, COR Family Member

Gentle Teaching has inspired me to become a better person

The way I maintain a culture of gentleness at COR is simply being friends with the individuals I serve. When I am supporting, I look at myself as a guest in a friend’s house. I am not there to ‘take charge’ and tell them how they need to be living their lives. Again, I am a friend and a friend will never judge a friend’s decisions. If anything, I would suggest better choices for them just like any other friend would. For example, if one of the individuals I serve wanted to spend their entire pay check on a $200 used game system, I may suggest other options for the reason of helping them manage their money or I may ask nicely how important the game system is to them. From there, they could hopefully tell me that the game system is not important enough that they spend their entire pay check on or they may choose a cheaper option. If not, they buy the game system and we move on. At the end of the day, it is their choice and if that choice makes them happy, that is all that matters.

anyone-can-better-themselves-and-no-one-is-ever-too-old-to-improve

Gentle Teaching has inspired me to become a better person. I find myself using the Gentle Teaching philosophy in all aspects of my life, which has allowed others to feel more respected and warm when they are around me. My Mother first noticed this in me about two months after I began working for COR. She told me that I had came a long way with my personality and the way I show myself to others. Growing up, I was not the child with the best personality or the child with the most respect toward others. As I get older, I am improving in these things every day. It was nice to hear that from someone who sees me almost every day. I know that I am nowhere near perfect, but some progress is better than none. In the end, anyone can better themselves and no one is ever too old to improve.

 

Jason, COR Support

All ideas are valued and appreciated

Health and Fitness has always been a passion of mine and I have been trying very hard to promote that within our team. I have taken the lead with healthy grocery shopping and meal planning with the individuals we serve, but I have also been promoting our supports to do the same. When speaking to the team about proper nutrition, I open-the-floor for supports to share their ideas on how to promote a healthy lifestyle as well. All ideas have been valued and appreciated.

I hope to continue to promote health and fitness within our team

The team has come together in encouraging the guys to eat more food in a day and at proper times. I have also made it a priority to have the guys eat as many meals together at the table with their support. It promotes a sense of family and togetherness. I stress the importance of proper nutrition and reduced sugar in our diet. The team has been making better choices with what they buy for foods too.

One of the guys is also taking an interest in his health and he is becoming more internally motivated to keep his body healthy. I cook meals with him every few weeks and then freeze them so he has easy access to healthy and tasty meals that he can warm-up on his own. The rest of our supports have also been taking an initiative in getting him more physically active and eating healthy. I take him to the gym every week and he now looks forward to going and works very hard. My culture of gentleness definitely is reflected in my passion for keeping the individuals we serve physically healthy and happy. I am proud of them for telling me the things they like and don’t like when it comes to healthy meals and being physically active. I am also proud of our supports for being consistent in making health a priority. I hope to continue to promote health and fitness within our team, as it has benefited the overall quality of life with the individuals we serve.

 

Kyla, COR Support

 

A Conversation with a COR Support…

Describe a place or time where Gentle Teaching has helped you in your personal life.

This hits home to me! I am so blessed to be a part of COR; I have grown so much both within this organization and outside it. I truly saw myself becoming a better person and becoming a role model at home, at school, and at work every day. Gentle Teaching has definitely allowed me to learn more about myself!

I truly saw myself becoming a better person and becoming a role model at home, at school, and at work every day. Gentle Teaching has definitely allowed me to learn more about myself

Tell us about a bond that you or someone close to you shares with someone you support.

I have bonded well with all the individuals I support. When I come to their home for a support time, I feel as though I am invited to be there. Every time I walk into their house, I feel that I am coming home to my family or that I am coming into a house of close friends. I am grateful for the opportunity that COR has provided me to develop the relationships that I currently hold with every individual that I support.

 

Discuss a scenario where someone you support taught you something.

Recently, one of the individuals I support decided to manage his paycheck and put the money toward future plans and paying his bills. This was a rare occasion because in the past, his paycheck would be gone within a day or two from social outings alone. It was the first time that I had witnessed him making a plan with his paycheck and his willingness to learn to budget his money was amazing. From that moment, he unknowingly taught me that you can always grow and become a better person! It was a humbling experience to be able to see a 31-year-old man literally grow in front of your eyes. He has grown so much since I met him and I can truly say that I’ve watched him grow each day. It’s unbelievable!

It’s amazing to see that the individuals that I support are so passionate about so many things

How has Gentle Teaching transformed the person you are or aspire to be?

Like I mentioned earlier, using the Gentle Teaching approach to supporting individuals has allowed me to become a better person than I had ever imagined. My Mom has mentioned to me a couple times where she sees the growth in me and she was proud of how far I have come. My parents were worried about me when I was in grade 9 and 10 because I had the attitude and the personality of someone who was not capable of success. So for them to be able to witness my character grow so much, it’s a sigh of relief for them for sure.

 

Describe how you have been able to share one (or some) of your passions with the individuals we serve.

First off, it’s amazing to see that the individuals that I support are so passionate about so many things. Being able to share my passions with the individuals have definitely helped with the friendship that has developed. For example, one of the men and I share a passion for hockey. I know that whenever he is having a rough day, I can always bring up hockey topics and news and we can have a long-lasting conversation about it. There was a moment where he and I were at a Pats game and I remember thinking that our relationship had come a long way since we met. The Pats scored a goal, I looked over and he had a huge smile on his face and he ‘fist pumped’ full of excitement. He never does this! This truly was a special moment. It touched my heart to see how joyful he was to be experiencing the Pats playoff run with me.

 

Jason, COR Support