St. Joseph Home

Pillars in Action: Gentle Presence


Gentle Presence is based on the principles of John McGee and encourages us to make others feel safe, engaged, and loved; to have mindful interactions; to build valued relationships, and to create mutual trust and support.

As I enter the building to start my work day, I pass the residents waiting to board the bus for both school and day program. This particular morning was no different than most- I was greeted with smiles, iPods playing music, and even some snores. One resident, in particular, greeted me with his daily “go away” attitude, which I have since come to learn is code for “shower me with hugs and kisses.” And so what did I proceed to do- I showered him with hugs and kisses and we walked to the van waiting to take him to school.

As we exited the building, I heard a voice say “Don’t you dare give away all of my kisses” and the smile on this residents face got even wider as a bus driver exited and approached us. She began to engage in the banter back and forth, showering him with affection. She wished him a good day at school, then proceeded to begin to load the residents onto the bus. As I stood and watched for a few minutes, the smile on her face never left. She greeted each resident by name and took the time to interact while loading the bus.

The art of Gentle Presence is a pillar that is expected to be practiced within St. Joseph Home. But to see this art displayed by those interacting with our residents once they leave home; to know that they will continue to feel safe, loved, and engaged while maintaining mindful interactions provides a sense of peace. To see the love felt by individuals who come into contact with our community reminds us of the importance of Gentle Presence, not only to be on the giving end but more importantly, open to receiving it as well.

By: Melissa Rogers, Director of Nursing