Anyone who has ever worked towards a health or wellness goal knows that, in order to achieve it, you need to set yourself up for success. Creating realistic goals that work within your daily routine is key. But, even with a strong foundation, sticking to the routines that will lead you to your success can still be very challenging.
Achieving health and wellness goals is especially challenging for people with complex needs, like the clients we serve at Entrust. Our staff members work together with our clients, their guardians, and our management team to set appropriate health goals for each client, and to work towards fulfilling them with daily effort, dedication and support.
Our approach to health and wellness
We believe in a Supportive Care Model at Entrust, so recognizing self-determination in our clients and respecting their unique needs, is incredibly important to us.
We understand that success looks different for each individual; not everything works for each client. So, we create goals and corresponding plans that are specific to each person in our care.
For example, one client may be great at reaching hygiene goals, so a daily shower and doing laundry regularly is a success for him. Another client may struggle with hygiene goals, so showering once a week and doing laundry less often is an accomplishment for her.
Or, one client’s “win” may be leaving his bedroom and going into the kitchen. A successful day for another client may be leaving the house to go swimming or do another activity.
"It’s about meeting our clients where they’re at and being realistic with our expectations."
Our clients have a right to not be pushed into situations they find uncomfortable because we think it’s best. They have a voice, and we’re here to listen. Our staff members do their very best to help our clients reach their health and wellness goals, but they also understand that sometimes simply making an effort or making strides in the right direction is a success in itself. Sometimes “good enough” is a success.
The challenges our clients face
What many of us would consider routine health activity, like going to a medical appointment, can be very challenging for many of our clients.
For example, a lot of our clients have difficulty in waiting rooms. A waiting room is an unpredictable environment—a place with lots of people, bright lights and unfamiliar sounds—that can be triggering for clients with sensory needs.
Not knowing what to expect from the appointment itself can also be stressful for our clients. Many are also dealing with trauma from past experiences around doctor’s appointments, which makes it difficult for them to trust and talk to medical professionals.
When it comes to creating daily wellness routines for our clients, our staff may encounter challenges in supporting our clients to achieve their set goals; due to the neurological make-up of our clients, they may experience difficulty in participating in a healthy lifestyle.
With unique challenges and complex needs for each client, a lot of planning is key to meeting even basic health goals.
Recently, a client had to go to the dentist where he’d have to be put under general anesthesia. We knew this client would be very anxious waiting for the appointment. Here are the steps we took to prepare for this dental appointment to make sure it was a success:
- Found a clinic that had experience working with patients on the spectrum and that would also do general anesthesia
- Booked the appointment
- Spoke to a psychiatrist about either prescribing or recommending a PRN dosage for right before the appointment to help the client stay calm
- Packed a bag with a change of clothes in case the client needed clean clothes after the appointment
It often takes multiple staff members to plan a client’s medical appointment and then provide the level of support necessary at the time of the appointment to make sure it’s a success. We need to plan for the unexpected anytime we take a client out and we always have a contingency plan in place in case of behaviours.
"Promoting health and wellness within our houses goes a long way in encouraging our clients to stick to the healthy routines we put in place."
Social stories and visuals help our clients understand health and wellness in general. For example, showing them a plate and showing them three healthy food choices for the day.
We also focus on taking any special interests our clients have and expanding on them to help them reach their health and wellness goals. For example, if a client likes to exercise, we’ll schedule ways to get him moving each day, like an hour at the gym or a walk outside. When possible, we’ll get his input on scheduling the types of activity he wants to do, making him part of the planning process. However, some clients find discussions about exercise triggering, so we use creative solutions to increase movement without mentioning exercise, such as parking the car farther away to encourage more walking.
Ultimately, setting realistic goals, planning ahead, and remaining flexible in our approach and implementation are the keys to keeping Entrust’s clients healthy and well!
Learn about our behavioural specialists and the work they do to support our client’s health and wellness here.