Compassionate care can change a life. It’s a simple idea that holds power and holds true for Phyllis and Beverly.
Beverly has severe autism. When she was welcomed into Phyllis’ sponsored residential home in 2003, she struggled to communicate or show emotion. Phyllis, who had initially welcomed Beverly as a short-term (respite) placement, felt called to help Beverly live the life she deserved, no matter what.
“I always felt like it was my purpose,” said Phyllis.
As time passed, Phyllis learned how to compassionately care for Beverly and Beverly learned how to feel comfortable and safe in her new home. The learning process was not always easy. There were moments of pain, confusion, frustration. One moment that Phyllis cannot forget—10 years ago, when a doctor told her that Beverly would never do any better. The harsh words stung, but they pushed Phyllis to fight harder for Beverly than ever before.
“I’m not one to give up,” said Phyllis.
In the years after that difficult time, Beverly has blossomed. Her communication skills have improved, and she has found a routine that works for her. She even gives hugs and says, “I love you.” Her days are filled with activities from board games to stories to caring for her baby doll. Before COVID-19, she was involved in the community and attending a day support program, as well as traveling to beaches, water parks, and amusement parks.
It’s hard for Phyllis to imagine what Beverly’s life would look like without compassionate care. Would she feel safe? Would she smile or laugh as often? Would she feel loved?
Phyllis is thankful those questions do not have answers. She is thankful that Beverly came into her home and stayed. She is thankful that doubts and frustration were no match for the power of compassionate caregiving. As for Beverly, her words are a little limited, but her actions speak volumes.
One day, years ago, Beverly gave Phyllis a hug. Up until that point, she had not communicated or shown emotion. But that day, she wrapped her arms around Phyllis and hugged her. It was so unexpected that Phyllis was initially concerned that something was wrong. Then it clicked…Beverly had been giving her a hug because she felt safe, comfortable, and loved. Beverly may not have had the words at that moment, but the hug was her way of saying she was thankful.