Monday, December 26, 2011


Friend - Elizabeth C.

What a Laguna Honda Staffer Learned From a Resident

You may have seen Paul H. He’s the fellow in the wheelchair with long brown hair and a patch over one eye. He also has only one full hand (he was born that way). On his other hand, just one finger.

Paul gets around, and he knows a lot about Laguna Honda. He’s been here about 6 years, and he’s past president of the Residents Council. He’s also written a book called “CONSIDER THESE...It's About The Importance of Self-Acceptance.”

The two of us have talked a lot about how to improve communication between staff and residents. We agree that people often assume certain things about other people that simply aren’t true.

Not long after he came to Laguna Honda, Paul formed a bond with Paul Carlisle, who works here as Rehabilitation Coordinator.

They used to have a daily chat in Paul C.’s office, and they discovered many interests in common.

The resident also gave the staffer his book.

Here Paul Carlisle takes up the story:

”Paul gave me the book with only a brief comment that he hoped it would be useful. Ironically, in the first chapter Paul tells the story of his hand.

“He said that most people assumed that he had lost his hand in an accident, but the truth was he was born without it. He tells of a painful childhood where he made great efforts to hide his hand by sticking it deep in his pocket, even among people that knew he didn't have the hand.

“He goes on to talk of how he gradually embraced his loss by forcing himself to keep the limb out in the open.

“While I was reading the story it occurred to me how I had been hiding some of my own missing parts and how there might just be value in bringing those into the open. In other words, the telling of Paul's story touched my life in a deeply personal way.

“In my early days here, I carpooled with other employees. I had thought to ask one of them how she had lost her hand. It was a sad story, and it affected everyone hearing it. That ultimately led to a deeper relationship between her and the others in the group.

“But no one else had thought to ask her what had happened.

“Paul's story had a similarly compelling effect, but I could have gotten there sooner had I thought to ask.

“We talk about patient-centered care from the perspective of trying to make a homelike environment, or scheduling things according to our patient's needs, but we seldom take the time to ask, and we don't expect to be changed ourselves.

“It's in the asking that not only gives us the appropriate perspective but can ultimately lead to fundamental changes in who we are as individuals.’

Something all of us, residents and staff alike, can remember. Wouldn’t it be wonderful as we move on, to move closer to each other as well?
And think how much we all can learn—just by asking.

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