Matt: Taking the time to plan for employment

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Background

Matt uses a small tool on a piece of wooden furniture, in front of a wall of shelves stocked with boxes and other suppliesMatt is 22 years old and lives in a residential home. Matt has been described as a tremendously able guy who is very friendly and who gets along well with others. Matt had some experience working in the community, in a cafeteria and doing landscaping. Matt had also worked at Stop and Shop retrieving carriages, which he described as boring. Matt’s interests included electronics and construction work. He looks forward to getting married to his girlfriend and living independently in the future.

What’s important

Matt’s transition coordinator from the agency in Massachusetts that funds his adult day and employment services nominated him for a pilot project which involved a team and a series of planning meetings to create and implement employment goals. As a part of Matt’s person centered career planning process, six meetings in total were held, two of which were quite long, lasting two and one half hours. In these first few long meetings, the group was challenged with discovering Matt’s interests and goals, information that would guide his employment plan. The facilitator who ran the meeting asked the group to consider what brings out the best and the worst in Matt, what gifts can Matt bring to this world, and what dreams they held for him. Matt’s team as a whole worked together and thought of many possibilities.

In the first person centered planning meeting, the team immediately recognized that Matt was bored at home, having nothing to do. As a result, his employment specialist decided to move straight to the job search process. They immediately got him ready for interviews and enrolled him in public transportation training. The team met weekly to maintain momentum, updating each other on his many “world of work” tours (exploring different venues to see what it might be like to work there). While initial planning meetings were much longer and discussion-oriented, subsequent ones were much shorter, held mostly for updates.

Matt holds measuring tape up to a piece of wooden furniture, in front of a wall of shelves stocked with boxes and other supplies

Efficiency in the planning process was ensured because Matt’s service coordinator and his facilitator worked out a shared responsibility for tasks and coordinated activities with one another. The service coordinator and facilitator clearly agreed on their roles: the service coordinator scheduled meetings and the facilitator led them. The facilitator relied on the service coordinator’s organization and the service coordinator relied on the facilitator’s expertise in person-centered planning. The service coordinator was also the liaison to Matt’s guardian, making sure that she was informed of each step.

As it turned out, the employment provider had a contact at a nearby Sheraton Hotel. The Sheraton also had experience employing some individuals with disabilities in housekeeping positions. The employment provider’s role was to contact the Sheraton, prepare Matt for the interview, and assist him in filling out his application. Matt got the job in one day!

What happened

Outside in front of a blue awning for the Sheraton Grand Ballroom, Matt pushes a wheeled trash bin.

Matt started at 25 hours per week and now works 30 hours per week in the maintenance department at the Sheraton. He brings his tool set with him (a birthday gift from his co-workers) and does maintenance work and painting. He also cleans the hotel’s parking lot in the mornings. Matt benefits from a supportive group of co-workers who supervise him and help to keep him on task. Matt enjoys lunchtime, when he can sit outside with his co-workers, chatting and laughing. His job coach does check in with his supervisor regularly but no longer stays with him at the job.

Lessons learned:

  • Matt’s team took time at the outset to discover and discuss Matt’s interests, goals and support needs. This critical period guided the remainder of his planning process.
  • During the planning process, Matt’s employment provider recognized the need to shift gears and implemented a rapid job search process, immediately beginning to investigate job options and put supports in place.
  • Team members met frequently to keep the process moving forward. While initial planning meetings were discussion-oriented, subsequent ones were task-oriented, with updates provided by each group member.
  • Matt’s facilitator, employment provider, and service coordinator all understood each other’s roles throughout the planning process. Delineating roles and depending on each other’s expertise created an effective planning and implementation process.

For more information contact:

Bonnie Griffith
Service Coordinator
978-927-2727 ext. 134
Bonnie.Griffith@dmr.state.ma.us