Supported Employment Success Story

Jan 19, 2021

Interviewee #2

Jason Bourgeois, a LifeWorks NW Supported Employment specialist at our Milwaukie-International Way site, recently celebrated the success of a client dealing with Bipolar 1.

We’ll call Jason’s client Mercedes. “I started working with Mercedes a little over a year ago, and last spring her supervisor reached out to me and said she was making mistakes at work, seemed to be confused, her communication was off, and she was just unwell. It was clear greater intervention would be needed for her to keep her job.”

Mercedes, her manager, and the LifeWorks NW team worked together to create a plan of action to help her manage her symptoms, while keeping her job. Jason was in direct contact with her supervisor multiple times a week, and that helped build support for his client and the employer’s commitment to Supported Employment. Eventually, a temporary leave of absence from work, medication adjustments, and overall support for well-being were important parts of Mercedes’ progress.

“Mercedes was forgetting to complete simple tasks during her shifts, and she was unable to independently keep track of her work schedule,” says Jason. “Communicating with coworkers and customers became challenging. She needed to take a leave of absence from work and a family member came to support her through this difficult time.”

While she was off work, Jason continued talking with Mercedes supervisor to help ensure that her job would still be there on her return and to learn about the specific skills she needed help with to make that possible.
Although she’s back at work, Jason and Mercedes continue working on scheduling skills. In the past, she’s often called Jason to see if it was the right day. He is helping her build out easy-to-read schedule calendars she can put on her refrigerator, and he often calls her in the morning or on weekends to make sure she is still tracking when she should be at work.

“I look at this as a huge teamwork,” says Jason, whose degree is in psychology. Mercedes has received support and services from a variety of LifeWorks NW programs over a number of years. During her most recent crisis the team members were in frequent contact and worked together to give Mercedes the best care/treatment possible.

According to Mercedes, she’s made numerous improvements in her professional and personal life over the last few months. She’s returned to her regular working schedule at the store and she’s making improvements in all aspects of her job. She continues receiving various services through LifeWorks NW; Peer Support, Supported Employment, therapy, medical assistance, etc.

“Many thanks to Peer Support, her doctor, her program director and front desk staff,” says Jason. “All of these teams had enormous impact on her overall wellness.”

Jason speaks highly of his client, saying she is a hard worker dedicated to her job and employer and to the Supported Education program itself.

“She cares a lot about her work, her family and her treatment,” says Jason. “And she bases a lot of her self-worth on her job; she is really motivated to getting well. Mercedes doesn’t always recognize what is not going well, but she follows instructions diligently. So if I ask her to make a schedule calendar, it’s done.”

Mercedes sees her return to work as the most important sign of progress she had made over the last few months. She continues to make improvements at her job and her manager and coworkers consider her an essential part of the store’s overall success.

“OMG…LifeWorks NW has supported me mentally and physically to achieve my goals…big and small!”