Friday, March 1, 2013

The power of relationships by Drew Bielemeier, senior vice president of operations

 As an agency, we are dedicated to education as a way to improve the quality of our support and ensure the safest environment for those we support and our employees. We know how to safely support someone in receiving complex medications and perform CPR, how to support people with evacuating for fire drills and how to properly fasten safety q-straints for those requiring wheelchairs.

While education is an important part of our success, we need to talk more about something that also has proven to keep people safer and happier: relationships. We know that when the support professionals and the people we support become friends, advocacy increases and mistakes decrease. We know that when people genuinely care about one another, they’re less likely to cut corners or rush. And we know that those friendships open up a greater opportunity.

We call that social capital, and study after study shows that stronger social ties translate into better mental and physical health for people of all abilities. Relationships are that powerful! It all begins with the genuine and authentic relationship of two. 

Noah served as an usher at Drew and Jennison’s wedding. “I was shaking in my boots,” he said, but he wanted to do a good job for himself and for his friends. Now, he’s excited about moving to an apartment of his own with support that’s customized to his individual needs. “It’s going to be good for me.”
Joanne likes to visit with Drew at Rotary Sunshine Camp -- and she especially likes it when he brings shrimp for her. Their friendship is good, she said, adding that she always hugs Drew.

Heritage Christian – in partnership with Lifetime Assistance – recently brought in Al Condeluci to Rochester to talk about social capital. Condeluci has been an advocate and catalyst for building community capacities and understanding culture since 1970. He has worked as an attendant, caseworker, advocate, planner, program director and now, CEO of his organization, UCP/CLASS.  He has emerged as a national leader and consultant on human services and community issues, and he has some great talks on YouTube. Each session runs about seven minutes. Check them out to learn more.

Al Condeluci on building community, part 1:

Al Condeluci on building social capital: