family circle partners
ABOUT FAMILY CIRCLE PARTNERS
Special Needs families often have concerns about what will happen to their family member when they can no longer provide that personal care. Sometimes they wonder, "What can I do now to help prepare for that day?" As care providers, we deal with every phase of personal need. We provide warmth and love to the best of our abilities given the additional demands on our time. We provide a home with a room for expressing individual likes and ensure the person’s safety. We make certain that our loved ones arrive at their doctor appointments on time and transportation provided. We follow up with professional recommendations and ensure that medications are available. We cook, clean, and provide for an optimal routine of daily personal care. We agonize over details and become flexible when necessary. We know we will not be easy to replace. We fear no one will want the job and feel certain no one will care as much as we do.
Melanie Shanty, Founder, Family Circle Partners
I am the sister of mental illness. My older sister became ill in her first year of high school. Up to that moment, she had been a normal healthy girl of 14. Her illness was sudden and extreme. There were five children in the family. Susan was the oldest and I was second in line. Susan’s illness left a lasting mark on our family and affected our childhood and adult experiences. She died a tragic death in October, 2011.
Although never verbalized by my parents, as the second oldest sibling I felt a responsibility to them and my sister. I knew my parents were in unfamiliar and overwhelming territory. Additionally, they both worked full time and cared for four other children. That sense of obligation continued until her death. We all loved Susan and felt sadness when she became ill. I suspect my siblings have their own unique stories to tell.
For years, I watched my mother’s relentless efforts to ensure that her daughter received a proper diagnosis, follow-up treatment, an education and afforded the opportunity to live a rewarding and productive life. Due to Mom’s uncompromising efforts, Susan graduated from high school, participated in an outpatient maintenance program and lived independently with her husband of 26 years. More importantly, Mom taught Susan to accept her illness and assume responsibility for her life.
When my mother died in 1998, I continued her advocacy efforts on behalf of Susan and spent the next 13 years as Susan’s primary care provider. I don’t regret having assumed this responsibility. My siblings and I supported Susan’s recovery and we all miss her warm smile and caring demeanor.
Through the years, I also had daily experiences with Susan’s mentally ill husband and upon his death became the principal advocate for her roommate who suffered from cognitive impairment and dementia.
During my journey I arrived at some important questions such as,” What will families do when the primary caregiver can no longer perform that role?” “What will happen to their special needs family member?”
Following Susan’s death, I knew that I wanted to talk with families about these critical issues. I wanted to help them avoid the negative consequences of not planning.
I learned the importance of life planning through years of providing financial planning services for my clients. If professional planning worked for them, it would work for families who care for developmentally disabled or mentally ill spouses, parents, siblings and children. Family Circle Partners will carry Susan’s legacy to all people who seek secure futures for their loved ones.
Frank Shanty Ph.D.
Dr. Frank Shanty is a published author, researcher and writer presently writing two books in the mental health field. Frank helped Susan achieve success in her recovery over his 30 year relationship with her. He held Susan accountable for treating her illness and managing her life. He was often the person she trusted most when she became ill. He was instrumental in intervening in several of her manic episodes and hospitalizations.
Prior to his involvement with Family Circle Partners, he authored, coauthored or served as general editor/contributing author of nine books in the field of international terrorism/transnational crime