Living Independently with Assistance: The Story of Patrick Kern

Self-determined life thanks to an assistant


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Patrick Kern is happy that he can live alone in Wertheim with the help of an assistant.

Photo: Pat Christ

Patrick Kern loves his own little kingdom in Wertheim. He moved there about three years ago. “Before that, I lived with my mother, but she moved away from Wertheim,” says the 23-year-old. With the help of his legal advisor, the severely disabled young man found an apartment. An employee of the Johannes-Diakonie Mosbach helps him to keep his apartment in good condition. Patrick Kern admits that without the assistant he would not be able to live alone.

If you happen to see Patrick Kern in the Wertheim city café, where he likes to be a guest, you would not notice that the twenty-year-old has to deal with several impairments at once. “I’m almost blind in my left eye,” says the young man. Learning has always been difficult for him. That’s why Patrick Kern graduated from a special needs school. He also has dyslexia. Nevertheless, the Wertheimer masters his life well. Four days a week he drives to a carpenter’s workshop in Kembach, where he works as a helper. Every Wednesday, his day off, an assistant from the Johannes Diakonie comes to his house.

“She helps me around the house and with my money,” says Patrick Kern. Keeping his four walls in order alone would overwhelm the young man. There is so much to do. The windows have to be cleaned. From time to time the fridge needs to be defrosted. The floors have to be wiped. wash out cupboards. Left to his own devices, Patrick Kern wouldn’t really know where to start. His assistant, on the other hand, has a trained eye. She immediately recognizes what needs to be done.

When she visits Patrick Kern, a little brainstorming takes place: What should be tackled first today, and what should be tackled second? “We always discuss everything,” says the young man. Last Wednesday, for example, the two spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen. Patrick Kern is very happy that he has his assistant. “After three years, we’re a well-established team,” he says. The assistant now knows exactly what makes him tick.

If, however, conflicts arise, which rarely happens, they are resolved peacefully. Patrick Kern’s assistant respects her client’s right to self-determination. In homes, the young man knows, it would be much more difficult to live independently: “For me, a home would be bad.” For the Wertheimer, having one’s own four walls means freedom. This allows him to come and go as he pleases.

18 men and women in the Main Tauber district are currently receiving assistance from the Johannes Diakonie. In addition to Patrick Kern, this also includes his older brother, who lives in Bad Mergentheim. “Some of us, like me, get help once a week, others up to three times,” reports Patrick Kern. Both the scope and the type of assistance depend on individual needs.

Patrick Kern, for example, cannot throw himself into the housework when he comes home from work in the evening. He needs someone to mentally prepare what needs to be done with him. The housework itself is easy for him. However, not to organize them. In the meantime, however, he has learned to do small things on his own: »When I get home, I set myself a timer for ten minutes.« In these ten minutes he cleans the living room table, for example. The next day it’s the kitchen table’s turn.

According to the idea of ​​inclusion, every person with a handicap should be able to live independently, no matter how serious the restrictions are. In many cases, however, this can only be achieved with assistance. In Würzburg, several men and women with severe disabilities receive personal assistance throughout the day and sometimes also at night. Some hire their own assistants. This is not yet a matter of course. In Main-Spessart and in the Main-Tauber district, almost no disabled people have personal assistants that they have chosen and hired themselves.

It is all the more important for the WüSL – Self-determined Living Würzburg association to make the possibility of personal assistance better known in the region. People who are themselves affected by a disability get involved in the association. Above all, with the offer of participation advice, which has also recently been established in Karlstadt, WüSL is committed to men and women who want to live with personal assistance. A few weeks ago, an IT cooperation project started with the University of Würzburg, in which a young woman from Külsheim is also involved.

The Internet platform entitled, which will be developed by July, is intended to make the job description of the personal assistant better known. This is necessary because, according to several WüSL members, the search for assistance is becoming increasingly difficult. This is due to the nursing shortage. Not only nursing staff can provide personal assistance, but anyone who feels capable of doing so.

The topic itself is red hot. New forms of assistance were introduced with the Federal Participation Act. Fathers and mothers with a disability now have the right to parental assistance. Personal assistance in the hospital has also been available for two years.

Pat Christ

Background: assistance platform

On Monday, July 17, at 12 noon, students from the University of Würzburg will present a platform for personal assistance for disabled people at the Projektiade. The platform is intended to make the field of activity of personal assistants better known and to help people with disabilities to find assistants.

The WüSL association – self-determined living in Würzburg also provides information about personal assistance on tel. 0931 50454 or on its website at pat/bal

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2023-05-31 09:28:15

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