by Jordan Gilbert
My most memorable OK AIM monitor visit was with Carol (not her real name). As usual, our coordinator had scheduled a visit for my partner and me to check on Carol. When we called to confirm the visit, Carol told us that she could not keep the appointment. She said her staff had made other plans for her and that they would not be home. It is not unusual for a visit to be rescheduled, but there was just something about the way Carol was talking that made my teammate and me uncomfortable.
We contacted the coordinator and asked if we could schedule another time with the individual and were given permission to call the home and reschedule the visit. My partner and I called what we assumed was Carol’s home phone, but it turned out to be her cellphone. I got really concerned when she kept whispering and told me that she couldn’t talk very long because she didn’t want her staff to hear the conversation. She asked us to call back later when the evening shift would be on duty. Just hearing this made us more determined to make this visit happen.
We could hardly wait until later in the evening to make the call. When we finally got in contact with Carol, she could barely talk without crying. She apologized for not being able to see us, but said that she was changing companies and that her current company was being very controlling and sending in staff that she did not trust or like to work with her. She also said her evening staff was kind and she wanted them to be present when we came to visit.
Between Carol and the evening staff, we were able to schedule a time the visit could take place. When we got to the home, Carol was a lovely hostess. She kept telling us she really enjoyed having company and didn’t get to see many people because of her staff. The change in companies was supposed to take place within a week and her evening staff was going to transfer with her. Carol kept telling us that she was afraid that the staff would make things very uncomfortable for her until she transferred.
It was wonderful to see that the evening staff was so comforting. This staff even offered to take Carol on outings to keep her busy and away from the day shift. There wasn’t any evidence that Carol was being physically harmed, but we just didn’t want to leave her until we were satisfied that more people were aware of what she was telling us. We notified the OK AIM Program Coordinator before we left Carol’s home to discuss the situation.
Carol was so excited about our visit that she pulled out her little Polaroid® camera and had her staff take pictures so that we could remember each other. As an ORU athlete, I have taken a lot of pictures. My phone is full of pictures of my friends and I even have a bunch of selfies. But none will be as precious to me as the tiny Polaroid picture I have of Carol.
OK AIM Coordinator’s note:
The information from this visit was reported to the DDS case manager and case manager supervisor. The case manager contacted the incoming residential provider and maintained daily contact with Carol until the transfer was completed. Since this visit, Carol has contacted OK AIM several times inquiring when another visit could be scheduled because she felt so comfortable with the monitors from her last visit. She also requested that the same “friends” be assigned on subsequent visits. The monitors also received a complimentary email from an individual who identified herself as Carol’s advocate. The efforts made by OK AIM volunteers are invaluable and the results of monitoring visits can significantly and positively impact the lives of service recipients.