“Is John here yet? When will he be here?” PLUS Company client, Ian, is gazing anxiously towards the road, hoping that Direct Support Professional, John Korpi will appear at any moment. Ian is hoping that John will show up soon, not just so he can eat lunch, but because he knows that John is someone who truly cares, and, more than that, someone who truly listens to him.
Listening is a skill that involves much more than just hearing what people are saying. It’s about making a connection and communicating with one another. That’s the philosophy John uses to approach the individuals he works with every day. John has been working at PLUS for 4 years, supporting his clients out in the community, and helping them build skills that lead to greater independence. “It’s about getting to know people and building
relationships,” John says, “Even though some of the individuals I work with are non-verbal, they are able to tell me when they are upset or frustrated. The guys I work with can be challenged when their routines are disrupted, or when they are trying to learn new skills, but because we’ve built that relationship and trust, I can hear what they are trying to tell me.”
A typical day for John and the men he supports, is very busy, including walking for exercise, working as a team at a job site, and participating in community activities and skills building. “Each activity needs to be adapted or altered for the client’s abilities,” John says. “We work together to set realistic expectations about each task and then work towards those goals. It’s all about allowing the clients to make their own choices as much as possible and giving them the right to fail. Everyone deserves that opportunity and that independence.”
It’s clear that John’s approach is working. The guys he works with, including Daniel, Ian, and Tim, are all very clear in their admiration of John. Thanks to John’s motivation the guys are committed to doing their best, to be as independent as possible.