Month: January 2014

Friends for the Friendless

By BitcoDavid

What if there were a program that benefited the disabled community, cut down on prison recidivism, and rescued animals? Oh wait, there is. A number of states are now exploring programs where inmates can care for and train adopted service dogs.

In one example, C.H.A.M.P. Assistance Dogs Inc. has partnered with Missouri Department of Corrections and placed dogs at Women’s Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center (WERDCC), in Vandalia, Missouri. The dogs go from local shelters to an 8 to 10 week training program at the facility. There, these animals live with and accompany the women in their day to day activities while being trained in all aspects of life as a service dog. Staff members visit the prison once a week to evaluate the dogs. Successful inmates are rewarded with the opportunity to take on more dogs.

The Prison Pet Partnership of Tacoma, Washington has as…

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It’s All About Communication

I spent most of the day hanging around Mass General Hospital today while a family member had surgery. During these many hours I spent some quality time pondering the imponderable. Why do the Hard of Hearing have so much trouble with service providers, particularly medical personnel?

On the one hand, I can go to NVH and everyone I run into there knows how to relate to a hard of hearing person.  But…they have an Interpreter for the Deaf on staff – and are proud of it! They do their best to offer assistance promptly and efficiently.  MVH on the other hand seems to have no idea how to relate to someone with a  hearing problem.  I mean clueless – totally.

When an ENT and their office staff members are equally clueless I am both baffled at the lack of competence (lets call it what it is) and frustrated by the lack of response.

So what’s the difference between MVH where no one knows what to do and NVH – a tiny, isolated, HoH and Deaf friendly hospital? What gives? It can’t be corporate philosophy as they’re both owned by the same mega-chain.

I kept kicking the can down the street mentally and came back to the concept of AWARENESS.  Good old being in the moment awareness. And how do you become aware – even in the Buddhist sense of learning to be in the moment? Training followed up with practice.

Not a handout no one reads, but pervasive institutional training.  Someone at NVH took the time to make it a HoH and Deaf friendly facility.  Training and practice. You can’t learn anything without training of some sort and some kind of practice in using the training.

It isn’t about hearing  Not everyone can nor should get a CI. It is about communication.  And to be able to communicate with anyone you have to be aware of communication styles.  Without adequate training and practice – or some positive exposure to the HoH or Deaf – you have folks who are blissfully unaware that they are inadequately serving clientele.

It is why I’ve literally told more than one doctor: “You are not competent to serve this patient” when I’ve acted as a patient advocate. It is why I don’t hesitate to pull the plug on an incompetent provider who is unwilling to learn.

So, having had this “awakening,” I’m at the hospital making notes on my trusty iPhone.  

Tonight I started a Google document presentation. It’s in rough draft and it’s out of order.  It’s something I can put up on the web and make accessible to the world.  I might reach out to some terp type folk I know. Gotta start somewhere.

Then I plan on creating a neat, tight little document in big type that can be printed and handed out to  providers who take our hard-earned money and give bloodily little back in return regarding communication.  Something with just a few easy points – because they aren’t going to read much – and nicely phrased to be informative and non-confrontational.

Not everyone is as obnoxious confrontational aggressive assertive as I am, so a handout needs to be short and sweet.

Why? Really – why?

Maybe my friend David of Deaf In Prison can tell me. Why on Earth does someone start talking to someone and then turn and walk away. What?!  The mouth is on the front of the body, not the back. Is there some switch I don’t know about that moves a mouth from the front to between the shoulder blades?

Okay, I know I’m not the only patient at the surgeon’s office. I get that. Personnel who look familiar to me may not remember me since they are not a primary care office. But, really! What is it with hearies who will say something, before I am close enough to hear, before I’m sure it’s me they’re talking to, and then turn around and walk away and I know they’re still talking. The person could be singing the Torts Law song, “Chicken bone, chicken bone, choking on a chicken bone” from law school torts class, asking me how my New Year was, or telling me something important.

Exasperation ‘R Us

When I was close enough to guess I’d be heard I said, “I’m still deaf.” She turned and looked over her shoulder and I continued. “I was deaf the first time I met you. I have been deaf every time I’ve seen you since then, and I’m deaf today. You have to look at me when you talk to me.” I don’t know what she thought about what I said, but she did face me and did communicate appropriately with me. She’s really a very sweet young lady and I’m sure she just forgot, but I swear I want clothing designed that says – in large type “I’m still deaf.”  Maybe flashing off an on – in red letters – with spangles.

I will give her this, she was as sweet and kind as could be just as she always is and I do like her, I’d just like her better if she could remember I am functionally deaf in noisy situations – like doctor’s offices. (sighing)

The doctor – he’s no problem, he’s got a good voice and is a good communicator.

At the desk for scheduling surgery I’m back to “I’m still deaf.  You have to talk to me. I can’t hear you. Look at me when you talk to me. The piece of paper in front of you isn’t listening, I am.” 

Meanwhile, my daughter who is across the room, near the door, is able to have a conversation with the woman regarding scheduling.  I almost got up and suggested they make the arrangements without me. Not that my daughter tries to undermine me – she wants me to be fully engaged, it’s just that I can’t figure out how the hell these people do it.

Really, hearie friends. Do you routinely talk to someone through your back?  How does that work for you? Is there a way I can get in on this phenomenon?