By the age of six, “Justin” resembled a teenager. He was tall and built as if he was ready to join the high school football team. Unfortunately for Justin, with his size also came the inability to communicate his wants and needs efficiently and a lack of understanding of his own size and strength. Justin’s journey as he entered treatment at LHS Family and Youth Services would prove to be a very interesting one. He displayed such behaviors as stripping off his clothes, physically attacking others, and throwing temper tantrums. For Justin, however, these were not ways in which to really harm himself or others. In reality, he was trying to express himself, to test staff and their reactions, and even more so to punish himself as a “bad boy.” When helping Justin through these hard times, staff reassured him by saying, “You are safe, Justin. We care about you.” In response, Justin would always say, “No you don’t. You no care.” As staff continued to provide emotional support, reassurance, and consistency, Justin began to understand that he was safe and cared about. The foundation for Justin to learn to trust staff began to form, and behaviors decreased over time. Approximately four years later, with a great deal of commitment from staff, Justin was able to transition from the Maumee Youth Center to a less restrictive setting at the Anthony Wayne group home. Now Justin is often heard saying “You happy with me?” When staff members express their happiness, Justin’s smile is worth all the work.
While visiting friends in the Sandusky area, “Don” was involved in a terrible accident that resulted in two surgeries and a three-week hospital stay. Don’s family was unable to be by his side during this life-changing experience, so he was totally dependent on strangers in a town where he was only supposed to be for a weekend. Don was transferred to Lutheran Memorial Home after improving enough to be discharged from the hospital. He worked very hard in therapy and followed his physician’s orders, but he had some rough days. On one of those difficult days, his STNA went to assist him and noticed that he was really sad. She discovered that Don was very disappointed that his family was unable to fly to Ohio to see him. The STNA proceeded to tell him about a free app that enables video calls. Don called his family and explained to them about the app, so they could download it. The STNA then helped him download the app and connect with the facility’s Wi-Fi. Don and his family chatted later that night and every day following. He would carry his phone with him so his family could meet the staff and see the facility. After two months, Don was discharged, but he returned to the area with his family a few weeks ago. When they stopped in to visit, it was as if they had known the staff for years. Don’s family was so grateful that people cared enough about him to mention the app, because it had kept the family connected and lifted his spirits..
“Tammy” is living successfully in an independent setting now. A few years ago, though, some people thought that would not be possible. Tammy came to LHS Family and Youth Services at the Oregon Treatment Facility due to extreme neglect. She was malnourished and living in filthy conditions in a home that had been condemned by the health department. She had been treated like an animal. At the Oregon facility, Tammy made verbal threats on a daily basis – threats to harm or kill others. She was physically aggressive as well. Through careful nurturing from front line child and youth care professionals and goal-driven individual therapy sessions, Tammy gradually began to change for the better. Then staff and clinicians, working together, found a tool to help Tammy increase positive interactions with people. They identified that Tammy would benefit from increased security through physically caring for something else. A doll was purchased for Tammy. She named the doll “Sharon.” In a short time, Tammy was making significant improvements in developing appropriate social skills. She reduced the frequency and severity of her threats and decreased her temper tantrums. By the time of Tammy’s discharge, she was able to recognize and verbalize her feelings appropriately. She was also able to resolve conflict with others in a reasonable manner.
Early one morning, Lutheran Home at Napoleon staff noticed that “Marcille,” an assisted living resident, was having difficulty getting up. She also was slurring her words and had right-sided weakness. Marcille was rushed to the hospital, where it was determined that she had suffered a debilitating stroke. Her physician suggested hospice services, and the family placed her in Lutheran Home at Napoleon’s care center. As the days progressed, however, the staff and hospice nurse began to notice changes. After a week, Marcille was starting to speak more clearly and to sit up. The therapy department asked hospice for permission to evaluate how Marcille would tolerate physical, occupational and speech therapy. The sessions progressed slowly, but everyone involved in her care noticed improvement. After about two weeks, the interdisciplinary team, hospice, and Marcille decided to discontinue hospice services and focus on rehabilitation. Her determination was tremendous, and she began ambulating again and acting like her old self. Marcille’s family attributes her progress to her therapy plan, which incorporated a return to her assisted living apartment. They are overjoyed with her recovery and are astounded at how much change had occurred in a short two-month span. As the quote on the wall of Marcille’s former room in the care center says, “Every day holds a possibility of a miracle.” That is exactly what family members call their mother’s recovery.
Lutheran Memorial Home works very hard to maintain a family-oriented environment. So, when a long-term resident asked that his brother be admitted to the facility, staff immediately started working on the request. “Troy” was in need of multiple therapy disciplines but did not have any skilled payment coverage. The Admissions Coordinator worked with the Director of Rehabilitation to cost out and set a therapy schedule in which the facility would absorb the costs. Once admitted, the Life Enrichment Coordinator did additional research and discovered that Troy was eligible for several skilled insurances. During a care conference, Troy and his family were presented with the information. Troy shared that he had been at another facility for three months and had received no therapy at all, because he did not have insurance. Troy is grateful that his brother approached the Lutheran Memorial Home team with his referral.
“Jon” came to LHS Family and Youth Services in 2003, first to the Oregon Treatment Facility and then to the Maumee Youth Center. He had experienced 31 failed placements before he was nine years old. He was abused as an infant, toddler and young boy. Family and Youth staff kept him safe, providing not only stability and consistency, but nurture, love, and hope. Still, he had many setbacks in care – taking two steps forward and three steps back. He responded to the nurture, love, and hope by cutting himself, destroying staff cars, and getting physically violent. Steadfast staff members stayed with him and continued to help him. Jon graduated high school in 2012, a major victory, and moved to the adult program. For the next two years, Jared was in and out of jail and in and out of psychiatric hospitals. He had two staff assigned to him around the clock. Several months ago, Jon attended church for the first time in his life, accompanied by three staff members. He has been attending church since then. Jon recently moved into his own house that he rents. He is also working to support himself.
After months of being in and out of local hospitals, “Gary,” age 55 years young, was admitted to Lutheran Village at Wolf Creek’s care center. He came to Wolf Creek unable to walk and unable to eat or drink. The interdisciplinary team worked extensively with Gary, his surgeons, and physicians to develop a comprehensive care plan to ensure that he was receiving the care that would move him closer to his clinical goals. Gary and his wife were thrilled with Gary’s progress, giving all the credit to Wolf Creek. With physical therapy, Gary was able to walk with a walker. After five months without solid food and receiving speech therapy, Gary was thankful to be able to eat solid food once again. His wholeness of life was also a focus for the team, as they worked with his family to keep him positive and focused on his progress. Gary’s wife visited him every day after work, and eventually he was even able to go home on the weekends to spend time with his family and attend events such as his grandson’s football game. His wife and grandchildren have played a huge role in Gary’s positive attitude and his continued progress. Slowly, but surely, Gary’s life is reaching a “new” normal. It was a blessing to have the opportunity to see Gary strong enough to leave Wolf Creek with his wife and reach his ultimate goal of living at home again.
“Jane” was born into an abusive family and suffered severe trauma the first four years of her life. Fortunately, she was adopted into a loving home. During her formative years, though, aggressive behaviors began to appear. They increased in frequency and duration. Eventually her explosive behaviors and acts of aggression put Jane and her family at risk, and her unsafe behaviors became too much for her family to handle. When she arrived at the Maumee Youth Center at age 15, she was distrustful of staff, and directed her anger at being placed in a residential facility at them. Staff spent hours each day working consistently with her, teaching and modeling good behaviors. By showing they cared about her and providing a structured daily routine, her aggression decreased. Yet, it was often two steps forward and one step back.
The staff did not give up and neither did Jane. Her therapist worked tirelessly with her to develop coping skills to get her through the times when she would become upset or angry. When Jane turned 18, she became her own legal guardian and could make her own choices about her future. There was much discussion and concern about this, but Jane decided to graduate from high school instead of postponing graduation. Four days after graduation from the Liberty Educational Center, Jane left the Maumee Youth Center and moved into her own house in her home county. Staff members still ensure she stays on track and takes her medication. The numerous independent living skills she learned and practiced at the Center have been instrumental in Jane’s newfound independence. She is able to take care of the cooking, cleaning, and other chores needed to maintain her home. She enjoys making her weekly menu and shopping for her needed items. Now that she lives close to her family, they are able to visit frequently, which brings her joy. Jane’s new goal is to decrease the amount of time that staff is with her, and she is currently seeking employment.
“Margo” came to The Labuhn Center after surgery, during which doctors discovered that she had cancer. She received skilled nursing care and therapies at the Toledo campus, while she was undergoing chemotherapy at a local facility. This was a scary and challenging time for Margo, but the team at The Labuhn Center was there to help her through it. While her therapies were completed successfully and she was thrilled with her progress, her needs went beyond the clinical care that was provided. The team worked with her to enlist a doctor to follow her in the community and made sure that her clinical needs were met so she could return home. The Director of Social Services helped her navigate through the difficult Medicaid process and assisted Margo in overcoming the barriers that she faced as she prepared to return home. She has expressed her appreciation for all the support. Margo was discharged recently and is now thrilled to be living independently in the community.
“Jeff” came to LHS Family & Youth Services six years ago with no verbal communication. He had learned to express himself through pinching, grabbing, hitting, and kicking. He was a very aggressive youth, and appeared to be a very unhappy individual. Staff patiently worked with Jeff on his modes of communication, helping him communicate his wants and needs without the acts of physical aggression. Yet, daily activities, such as taking a shower, using the restroom, wanting a snack, or wanting a toy, could turn into behavioral outbursts. These same challenges were also apparent in Jeff’s educational setting, but staff demonstrated persistence in both the residential and school settings. They helped Jeff communicate by using positive reinforcement, hand-over-hand techniques, and an enormous amount of verbal praise; eventually providing Jeff with the confidence to trust staff. In May, Jeff graduated from the Liberty Educational Center. On graduation day, his parents helped him move into his own home, where Family &Youth staff is providing him with homemaker/personal care services. Today, Jeff is leading a much more productive and happy life than he was six years ago. Even though Jeff may not communicate through his words, he has learned less aggressive ways to express his wants and needs. He has a gentle approach when demonstrating to staff that he wants a certain item, would like to take a shower, or go outside for a walk. When he really wants to let someone know how happy he is, he breaks out into a dance…no music necessary!
Lutheran Home at Napoleon received a call from a family in a panic over the care of their parents. “Ruth” and “Jim” have been married for more than 55 years and have not been apart in the last 15. During much of that time, Jim was Ruth’s primary caregiver. One day, when family members stopped in to check on them, Jim was not acting right. His speech was slurred, and he did not really respond to questions. The daughter called for an ambulance, and both parents were taken to the hospital. Jim was sent to a Toledo hospital for further evaluation, and the family had to decide quickly how best to care for their mother. After many tears in the emergency room, the family decided to separate their parents. Napoleon staff worked quickly to accommodate Ruth’s emergency admission, knowing that it was going to be difficult for the family. Chaplain Genter supported Ruth with prayer and comfort. Jim was monitored at the hospital and was then referred to the Napoleon campus for rehabilitation.
Initially, staff wanted to separate the couple so that Jim could focus on regaining his strength; however, he insisted on sharing a room with Ruth. In the beginning, it was a bit difficult because Jim tried to care for his wife. After staff explained that they were there to help, Jim began focusing on getting well and allowed others to care for Ruth. Jim continues to receive therapy services with the goal of returning home with his wife, and he is making great progress. The family is unsure if going home is the best choice, but staff has explained that it is important to allow their parents to try to reach that goal. If Jim and Ruth are able to return home, a home visit will be set up before discharge so everyone will know what to expect. The children expressed gratitude for the staff’s care and commitment in working toward their parents’ wishes.
Before "Pete" came to LHS Family and Youth Services, he had run out of places that would accept him. He could not control his temper. He went from one residential treatment setting to another and spent several months in juvenile detention centers. LHS staff provided support and understanding to Pete, while also providing structure and guidance. Yet, he still lashed out at others. He was very aggressive and assaultive, but staff stuck with him and gained some insight into his emotional state. Staff located the biological father Pete had never met. His father was eager to meet him and get involved in his life. LHS flew the father to Ohio several times at the organization’s expense. Father and son connected at a Partners in Treatment Family Weekend, where his father stayed at a hotel, along with other parents, and met with Pete in a more structured environment. Pete’s therapist met with them individually and together, and another staff member met with the father to discuss long-term plans. Pete’s behavior began to improve. He is now forming healthy relationships with peers and staff, and is doing well in school. His relationship with his father continues to flourish through frequent phone calls and visits. Plans are being made for Pete to live with his father.
“Chuck” came to Lutheran Home at Toledo a very sick man. He suffered from a severe infection and had to be isolated in his room for a rather long period of time. Because of his illness, Chuck was not able to participate in therapy, which caused further decline in his overall health status. It was at this point that Chuck became very depressed. He told his caregivers that he was ready to give up. However, a team of compassionate staff that included nursing, therapy, social services, psychological services, and chaplaincy worked to address Chuck’s physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Along with tremendous support from his congregation, the staff supported Chuck through his difficult times. With praise to God for His healing touch, Chuck has had an amazing recovery. He is able to socialize out of his room and is now receiving therapy. In fact, Chuck changed from a patient who made a special effort to avoid therapy to someone who comes early to his appointments.