John West used to telephone his Riverside staff frequently … at all hours of the night, screaming and yelling. “I was a basket case,” says John. “I was depressed and angry all the time.”
John, who is in his late 40s and has a developmental disability, is part of Riverside Community Care’s Individual Support program. Riverside staff visit John’s apartment Tuesday through Saturday, for four hours a day. They help him with his finances, grocery shopping, food preparation, medical appointments, and household management. They also take him to activities in the community, like the 4th of July fireworks, Red Sox or Bruins games, or his favorite, the Topsfield Fair.
“It’s been a challenging time to get to this point,” says Maureen Letellier, Assistant Director of Residential Services. Before John joined Riverside in 2015, he had significant anger issues, was in and out of group homes, and was known to upend tables.
John, who has a great sense of humor, used to say that yelling was his disability, but that didn’t work with Maureen. “I’ve met my match with Maureen,” jokes John. If he phones her ranting and raving (which now happens infrequently), she encourages him to curb the yelling by only taking his calls when he’s calm.
Riverside staff has worked with John extensively on his anger management and coping skills. Due to his persistent anger, John was once estranged from his family, but he now speaks with his sister occasionally as they mend their relationship. In general, he likes to keep to himself, so his Riverside staff–as well as his cat, Oliver–form his network of community and support. “Riverside did so much for me in just one year. My case manager Alex is an awesome cook, Elise and I always joke around, and Maureen is a tremendous person,” says John. “I really do have the best team. Without them, I wouldn’t have the things I do now.”
Today, the yelling and screaming episodes are few and far between and the early morning calls have stopped. But if a member of his Riverside crew isn’t at work that day, John calls them, at a reasonable hour, just to check in and make sure they’re all right.
~Scott M. Bock, Founder and President/CEO