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Imagine you’re having a horrible day at work. As a result, you haven’t been as patient as normal and have said some pretty rude things to a couple of your coworkers. Your productivity has been way down, you’re stressed, and you can’t wait until the end of your shift. To help yourself feel better, you have already decided that on your way home you’re going to stop at your local ice cream shop and get your favorite bad for you treat. You arrive at the store and go in, but when you order your ice cream the person taking your order says, “Sorry, I heard you had a bad day today. You can’t have any ice cream.”

How would you respond to that? Probably not very well and it would likely increase your stress.

How do you think a caregiver denying access to a desired object or activity when a person served is under stress is likely to affect the stress levels of that individual?

Sometimes caregivers, either in an attempt to modify behavior or because of their own stress in a situation, will place limitations on people served that are not part of the person’s plan. In my own experience, I’ve heard caregivers say things like, “You told me to shut up, now you’re not going on your store outing this evening.” These types of responses from caregivers typically increase the individual’s stress level and often cause them to escalate.

In the Mandt System training program, we recognize there are often limitations to the activities that individuals served can engage in because of the need to keep them and others safe. Identifying and teaching coping skills to people served is a large part of the work caregivers do. When limitations are placed on people served, it’s important to manage ourselves to make sure those limitations are part of the person’s plan or necessary for safety and that we are not limiting the very things that the person may be needing to feel better.

Doug ZehrVogt, Mandt System Faculty

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