Hi, Wendi here. Maybe a big part of your life is spent supporting a person with needs that are sometimes different from your own, hard to understand, complicated, and/or frequently changing.

This is not easy even when things are going well, but can definitely cause stress if there is a crisis.

What if we looked at crisis the way we look at other things in our lives?

When you have the proper tool to do a job, the job is effortless, but when you don’t have the right tool, the job can be frustrating or seem impossible.

When your vacuum cleaner works, it runs like a dream. You don’t have to think about it. When there is a clog in the hose, the whole operation shuts down.

Sometimes, tools and machines break, or need a tune-up, or an upgrade comes out.  This is okay.

Vacuum hoses clog all the time. Maybe you get a pet and you suddenly need a vacuum with more suction power, or maybe you move to a place with only hardwood floors.

All of these changes are alright, nothing to stress over. Not your fault, the pet hair’s fault, nor the fault of the vacuum that the relationship just isn’t working any longer.

Tools and machines of day to day life are sort of like supports and services that you coordinate for your person. Sometimes things run smoothly and you can forget about the mechanics entirely – you have found the tools and machines needed to make life work, things are good, and everyone is getting what they need.

When crisis occurs, that could mean that the tools are broken, or no longer enough to support your person. It could mean that the hose is clogged, so to speak, and it needs a repair. It could mean an upgrade, or a change, or just a quick do-it-yourself check-up to see what isn’t working.

A good way to handle a crisis might be to handle it like a broken vacuum:

-First, turn off that vacuum when you realize it’s making a weird noise, or smelling bad, or not picking up the way it should. Unplug it, make sure you won’t get electrocuted. Make it safe. Maybe fuss a little bit.

-Next, poke around a little. Is it a big, obvious problem? Has this happened before and you remember how to fix it? Was it on its last legs anyway and you’ve been waiting for an excuse to check out the fancy Dyson? Decide if this is a problem you can handle on your own, or if you need help from a person that knows vacuums, or if it’s not worth the trouble to fix and you just want a new one.

-If you can handle it, then handle it and congratulate yourself on your victory. Think about the future – is this a temporary fix? Should you start saving for a new vacuum? Do you need to change a setting, or vacuum more frequently to take the strain off the machine?

-If it’s beyond your skillset – hey, that’s okay. Not everyone is a vacuum repair person. Finding a person to fix a broken machine can be frustrating and time consuming and sometimes expensive. You might have to invest resources into this that you didn’t plan for, like time or money. This step can be frustrating – vacuums aren’t something you should be thinking about all the time!

– What about your floors while the vacuum is out of commission? You might be frustrated by all the cracker crumbs you’re stepping on, or all the dust bunnies taking over. You can be easy on yourself. Try not to schedule a fancy party during that time. Don’t offer to host a floor-sitting dinner party. You don’t have the right tool to do that right now. That’s okay. You’re working on it.

-Once the vacuum is repaired or replaced, life can go back to normal. You can stop thinking of the vacuum and it will continue to do its job.

Crisis feels bad, especially when you’re the person responsible for making sure life is as good as possible for someone. But crisis is not your fault, nor the fault of the person you support. It does not mean failure on anyone’s end.

People do best when they have the tools that they need to get done what they want most to do.

Coordinating services and supports for your person is a lot like finding and maintaining the right tools. Need help finding those tools or getting unstuck?  Consultation services might be right for you — email us: info@branchesva.org and check out www.branchesva.org/consulting for more information about how we can help support you!

 

 

Tips for handling a crisis:

 

Make it Safe: Make sure things are immediately as safe as possible.

Investigate: Look at the problem. Get help if necessary to identify the problem.

Choose: Make a choice – can I handle this on my own? What resources do I need? Is it worth fixing?

Repair or Replace:  Find the resources necessary to repair, replace, or find additional tools to make things easier on the struggling support.

Be Kind: Especially to yourself during this process.

Future Plan: Is this a long term fix? What if this happens again?