If you’ve worked with Annette Hines, you’ve heard the phrase Circle of Care™, but what does it mean? Why is a Circle of Care™ so critical to the health of a special needs family? Circle of Care™ is a special team of people who you know who you can count on for support and resources, or to just give you a break when you need to get away for a few hours.  These people will change over time and may include neighbors, people in your temple or church, people at school, family members, caregivers, friends, advocates, teachers, or various professionals.

Hines recounts how when her daughter Elizabeth was alive, her pharmacist was part of her Circle of Care™. Because Hines could never arrive at the pharmacy before it closed to pick up Elizabeth’s medicine, the pharmacist used to leave the medication with a cold pack in a mailbox that Hines could access after hours.  To this day, Hines remembers fondly how that pharmacist helped ease some of the difficulty she faced in getting the resources needed for Elizabeth.  Who knows what people are willing to do if you ask them?

Ask for Help

Hines wonders why so many families and caregivers are afraid to ask for help.  It’s important to know when it’s time to wave that white flag to say: I can’t do this anymore, and I need help. I need a few hours to get away because I’m losing it.  Hines notes that the of lesson of asking for help came really late in her life, and that she only asked for help after her daughter Elizabeth had passed. Yet she wishes that she had asked for help more. And this is when the Circle of Care™ steps in to give reprieve to the caregiver and parents so they do not burn out.  She notes that as parents, we have to give ourselves a break and let ourselves off the hook. We are not perfect; we’re not always going to make the right choice. Sometimes we’re going to make mistakes. Sometimes we’re going to do the wrong thing. Sometimes we’re going to need an extra nap. Sometimes those dishes are not going to get done. Sometimes the laundry is going to be dirty a couple extra days and we just order clean underwear on amazon because it’s easier that trying to get the laundry done.  So it’s important to make a list of those people who are in your Circle of Care™ that you can count on and call when you need help. You can hear more about Hines’ journey as a special needs mother on the Parenting Impossible Podcast or the Purpose Driven Show Podcast she recorded in 2020.

Multiple Circles of Care™ for Various Areas of Life

Each disabled individual or family will have multiple Circles of Care™ for each area of life like healthcare, school, and finances. As the disabled person matures toward adulthood, the Circles of Care™ will be critical to the success of the creation of a life plan and the disabled person’s ability to do adulting.

In our brand new Transition Planning Masterclass and Coaching Programs, Hines encourages participants to create their own Circles of Care™ for each part of the process of developing a plan for the disabled person to emerge into adulthood.

Circle of Care Here’s a page from the course workbook that provides a map of those important people who will be there for each action step you create in the life plan for your disabled person.

Identify that special team of people for each element of planning. Make a list now of those people.

Who are the people you already know that you can count on?

Who are the special people who will help and assist in specific areas and realize those goals for you?

Think about each area that you will need help with such as healthcare, assessments and clinical evaluations, legal decision making, public benefits (SSI and SSDI), housing, job opportunities, etc.

Write the name and contact information for each person, as well as the area in which that person can be a resource.

The cool thing about the course is that the group coaching program offers the opportunity for participants to develop a new Circle of Care™ amongst the cohort of individuals taking the masterclass together.  Those participants will become a wealth of resources and support for one another throughout the process of the course and afterward. If you are interested in the course or coaching program, we encourage you to schedule a free call with Ivy today!