New Resource for Parents and Caregivers by the Sherlock Center!

By Sara Porcaro | November 12, 2019

In one of the conference rooms of the Warwick Public Library, the space rustles with activity. It's three o'clock, and as guests take their seats--as well as folders filled with Rhode Island resources and a cup of coffee from the refreshments by the far wall--they settle in for the upcoming workshop. This day marks the start of something new for both the instructors and attendees--and that's the Sharing Strategies: Positive Strategies for Caregivers workshop, hosted by the professionals of Rhode Island College's Sherlock Center!

With the reduction of physical intervention practices and the banning of restraints, human service agencies are settling into new models of crisis management and prevention--including programs like UKERU--and the importance of such a transition cannot be understated. However, many individuals with disabilities live not in residential programs, but with their families and caregivers. Outside the services they may receive from agencies, such as day and employment services, they spend time at home with their loved ones. For that reason, resources like the Sherlock Center's free workshop are a huge benefit to the community, for both individuals and their caregivers.

"This is our maiden voyage--our very first workshop," says the Sherlock Center's Adult Support Coordinator, Claire Rosenbaum, "and we're able to do this as a free resource thanks to a six month grant from the Executive Office of Health and Human Services. We're excited to be able to offer this to local families who need it."

This workshop's program was built through the collaboration of the Sherlock Center with several professionals in the human services field, including Perspectives Senior Director Christine Hathaway and Behavioral Health Clinician Lisa DeFusco. Over the course of three and a half hours, the workshop took participants through a PowerPoint discussing several points on behavioral health, support strategies, and topics like self-care. As well, the Sherlock Center's Technical Assistance Specialist Deborah (Deb) Arenberg also invited participants to go through exercises in the accompanying workbook, developed by the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), to help them further understand and internalize the course materials.

Deb, who has been with the Sherlock Center for eleven years, says: "CPI has their own module for training in nonviolent crisis intervention, and the Sherlock Center wanted to bring that training to Rhode Island." Regarding that training, she notes, "This is only the first step. We're going to do whatever we need to do to help people be successful with these strategies."

Throughout the workshop, caregivers were invited to discuss their experiences without judgment and encourage a warm, appreciative environment regarding their loved ones; they were able to share their concerns and work through potential solutions, all while receiving tips, resources, and other ideas from Sherlock Center officials. One parent came to learn about better ways to support her son, and she found the workshop through an e-mail newsletter with the workshop's registration dates.

"I think this workshop is a really good idea," the parent says. "It's been helpful just for me to have confirmation on things I wasn't sure on; it's good reinforcement for what we as parents and caregivers need to focus on."

All in all, the first workshop was a great success! With the abundance of resources shared with participants--including tip sheets, resources like BH Link, and other materials from the class--as well as a comfortable, friendly environment, caregivers walked away equipped with new skills to help support the loved ones in their lives. More workshops are available throughout the rest of 2019 and early 2020, including one entirely in Spanish on the 15th of January. For more information about how you can access this awesome resource, check the link here!