“He is just like one of us”
Mi Via can change participants life experiences. A participant’s mother, who is his Customized In Home Living Support provider, told me recently that Mi Via has changed things for her son and the words she used to best describe this change were, “He is just like one of us.”
It didn’t used to be that way, she furthered explained. When he was receiving services through the Developmental Disabilities waiver, he was a client. That made him different within the family circle. He has a niece and a sister who both live in Albuquerque that he spends time with now. He spends the night with them. This didn’t use to happen, because he was a client.
AAA Participant Direction’s motto is assist, advance, achieve; hence the three a’s. What this participant and his extended family have achieved after a few years on Mi Via is why Mi Via exists.
How does someone’s status as a “client” change how they are viewed within a family? Being a client means others, people with expertise and credentials, are in control now of the person’s life. Family members begin to feel that their relationship with the person is now based on a relationship with the system of services provided to their family member. It begins to feel like the client, who was their son, brother, sister, nephew, belongs to the service system. They don’t feel that they can interact with the person as they did before he/she was a client.
Where once the Mi Via participant’s sister was comfortable doing things with her brother, she know feels uncomfortable in relating to her brother. She stays away. She doesn’t see him as much or when she does, it occurs at the convenience of the service system. Until Mi Via came along and made right her relationship with her brother.
Mi Via takes the “client” out of the service system. This is a natural result of self-direction. As a Mi Via participant, the gentleman who is the subject of this story and his family began arranging support and services in a manner that suited them. Gradually, as they leave the defining boundaries of the DDW system, they remember what they mean to each other. His extended family begins to feel comfortable again in the company of the participant. It is like becoming a sovereign entity, a family that defines their culture and relationships for themselves. In Mi Via, the family doesn’t have to give up who they are so the participant can get the supports and services he needs. Is there anything greater that could be achieved?
He is just like one of us. He’s home.