Janey at the Mooselook Restaurant, after four or five years, recognizes him when he stops in, passing through on his monthly trip to Lunenburg to check on his oldest client, transplanted so far away from the home office’s regular service area after his home provider’s house burned down, forcing the move. The case should have been transferred to the agency’s southern division, but he begged to keep the client—now well into his eighties—and the home provider begged the agency so vociferously to remain on his caseload that the administration relented, agreeing to eat the mileage, provided that he limit home visits to the mandatory minimum of one per month unless there were some overwhelming, health-related need otherwise. So far, this had not been the case and, because he kept in fairly close contact by phone, he managed not to run up the mileage tab to the point where anybody complained.
Today he was combining his home visit with the annual presentation of the renewed Home Provider Contract and the mandatory review of agency policies and practices that (no matter how many times it had already been presented) was still referred to as “Pre-Service Training.”
The client had been placed with this particular home provider long before he’d joined the agency almost a decade ago, so when it came to presenting the training he simply asked the home provider to produce her copy of the agency’s procedure manual and promise to read through it again sometime soon. Then, as quickly as possible, he’d run down the required checklist, hitting the high points of any important changes—of which there were always few or none—and obtain the required signature acknowledging that the training had been delivered, understood, and agreed to.
The contract was another matter. Although it, too, remained largely unchanged over the years, he felt more obligated to closely review the dollar figures—the meager stipend and the pathetically small allowances for respite and community integration supports—and to apologize for the sad state of affairs that precluded any increase again this year over last.
He always offered to leave the unsigned contracts (two copies) with the home provider for a more careful perusal; offered to leave an envelope for their return; offered to drive back down in a few days to pick up the signed copies. He secretly hoped she’d take him up on the latter offer, thus necessitating another roadtrip, but the home provider—not really in it for the money, the client by now a virtual member of the family—always signed on the spot and sent him on his way.
In addition to the cordial relationship he’d developed with the client and the home provider over the years, it was now apparent that his monthly appearances had also inadvertently turned him into a regular (even if only a sporadic regular) at The Mooselook, where he always stopped for lunch.
Now, whenever he showed up, he only needed to smile and nod when Janey asked him if he’d be ordering the Sluggerburger. These days, he didn’t even have to ask for the apple crisp dessert, hand-churned vanilla ice cream á la mode.