Support, Inc. is so excited to share the good news-We are reopening at full capacity!
After more than a year of hosting smaller groups in the midst of the pandemic, we are thrilled to announce that we are back to providing services to our clients for our Specialized Habilitation and Supported Community Connections at FULL CAPACITY!
We’ve been busy in the last 16 months, expanding our program both in terms of space and activities. We now occupy the entire first floor of our building at 15591 E Centretech Pkwy. (located in Aurora) and have also added lots of fun and engaging groups for all our participants!
Join us the week of July 26th for our Spirit Week Events!
Monday July 26th: Sports Day/Olympics-
12:15-1:00 — LIFE Club We’ll be making fruit sushi and exploring the culture of Japan where the 2021 Olympics are taking place!
1:00-2:00 Outdoor Sports — Join us for Basketball, football, and a water ballon toss! (For those who would prefer to remian inside, we’ll be making our own baseball cards with all the “stats” about what makes us special)
Indoor miniature Golf!
Tuesday July 27th: Crazy Hair Day!-
inner Einstein with some crazy hair!
Crazy Hair Salon — some to us with your own crazy hair or let our stylists do’
you up good! (Adult Recess Activities will be happening outside for those who
prefer that “wind-blown” look!)
1:15-2:00 — Chill Club — Explore music and its powers to chill us out when times get tough
2:15-3:00 — Mad
Science Club. Ok, Einsteins, let’s do some Science! Today we’ll be
making volcanoes and bottle rockets!
Wednesday July 28th: Wear Your Pajamas Day!-
Moving and Grooving — Come enjoy a dance party with us!
Cookless Cooking — Learn how to make and enjoy a breakfast treat in the
2:15-3:00 — Table Top Toons! Get into your best Saturday morning cartoon vibes be creating your very own cartoon character in the premiere preview of our up and coming Table Top Role Playing Game Group!
Thursday July 29th: Dress like a Pirate Day! Pirate Hats provided!-
12:30-1:30 — Board Games Group
1:30-2:00 — Outdoor Treasure Hunt
2:00-3:00 — Make your own treasure map!
Friday July 30th: Superhero Day!-
12:00-1:00 — Choose your superpower and draw your own superhero
1:00-2:00 — Pop
Culture Club — join us to talk about the super athletic powers of Plympians!
As Support, Inc. Day Services has recently opened back up to
full capacity, we have taken some time to reflect on the last 12-14 months and
how we have operated in the midst of a pandemic. A lot has changed since March
of 2020, and Day Services has gone above and beyond protecting the health and
safety of the people we serve while also delivering high-quality services.
Let’s take a closer look at the evolution of these services.
To start, Support, Inc. closed it’s Day Services on March 17th,
2020 for three days. This was shortly after the NBA halted in-person games or
as we like to say, “This is when things were starting to get real”. Internally,
staff believed this lockdown would be short; little did we know, things were
just getting started. At any rate, we closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19
and to determine next steps for our employees and PRS. Support, Inc. ultimately
decided to safely reopen, to prevent disruptions to people’s schedules,
including HHPs, FCGs, and those that enjoyed participating in our services.
During this three-day closure, Day Services staff started
making PPE kits for internal use. These kits included gloves, sanitizer and
masks, protected and distributed by our receptionist whom we lovingly referred
to as Lord of the PPE kits. Outbound DSPs would come in and receive their kits
and get back on the road. Employees on-site had access whenever they needed it.
In the beginning, our Day Program staff disinfected things
constantly. Curt and Day Program Supervisors searched stores for disinfectant. One
employee found a distillery to purchase a 5-gallon bucket of sanitizer. At the
time, no one knew how the illness spread. As a result, we joined the
nation-wide sanitizer manhunt to wipe down surfaces as often as we could. That’s when Miles (Day Services Supervisor)
knew we were in it for the long-haul. The severity of the situation was
beginning to settle in as we frantically developed safety measures to prevent
the spread of the virus in our Day Program and Aurora office.
Curt had a friend making masks and made us dozens of masks
for Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) and other employees. Pressure began to
mount as we pushed forward to make and collect as much PPE as possible. By
mid-March, the grocery stores dried up with limited food and supplies. Day
Program Supervisors took it upon themselves to begin counting masks, gloves and
gowns everyday, to ensure staff had the supplies they needed to operate safely
in the building. The first 2-3 months
felt like an endless search for PPE, navigating a new world full of uncertainty
while trying to keep staff and PRS as safe as possible.
While all of this was happening, Support, Inc. was trying to
ramp up it’s Community Access Program. Our Day Services and Clinical Team
learned the art of flying plane as we’re building it. Soon after things began
shutting down, these two teams came together to assess immediate needs-who
needs a DSP now, who needs a session online and how can we manage these needs
in a safe and efficient manner. Daily meetings took place everyday for months
to meet the needs of the people we serve and their families.
Our Clinical Team prioritized social and emotional needs,
taking into consideration the boredom and isolation that would slowly settle in
overtime. Given the evidence-based articles and research we reviewed, the team
focused on preventative tactics to help our PRS manage their emotions.
Another action step we took on the front-end was securing
tablets for PRS. Miles set these up with Zoom and distributed close to 50. DSPs
tranposrted the tablets to consumer homes for individual therapy sessions and
also for our folks to join online groups. DSP would take it there. One
clinician reflects on this period as being “very creative despite the
circumstances. It’s hard to be creative when you’re freaked out, but
nonetheless we forged forward”.
The beginning of the pandemic is marked with Zoom and
learning how to use this technology that was so new to so many people. A lot of
the education we offered centered around the use of technology and how to
maximize these opportunities for socialization. Soon enough, we were able to
offer these group and private sessions from the comfort of your own home,
without worry or fear of catching the virus. Day Services staff and Clinical
Team members got creative together by sharing ideas to develop new groups
online. These fun opportunities led to an influx of participation online, so we
could continue the good work we do on the internet instead. Moving and Grooving
was born during this period, along with a few of our other hallmark groups. In
addition, Chris made a PowerPoint on germs, health and safety. Plain Language
was utilized often to ensure everyone understood new protocols and procedures.
As we learned to navigate Zoom, the weather was beginning to
warm up. Outside, it was easier to practice social distancing and to make games
with these lessons. We also taught mask-wearing, hand-washing and other basic
hygiene skills. LIFE Club began with the idea of practice around social
distancing, wearing masks, etc. It is worth noting that all of our online
programming was as a result of the pandemic. Nothing was online before then.
The attitude went from being “This is impossible-it can’t be done online” to
“Yes, this can be done and we will make it work”. Touching Stories serves as a
great example of our efforts to adapt a group from in-person to online.
*explain touching stories?* Ultimately, we practiced the necessary skills to
stay safe during the pandemic along with preventative measures for curtailing
mood instability, irritability and boredom.
The groups Support, Inc. as developed have turned out to be
very successful. For instacnce, one PRS was stranded in another state for a few
weeks. Thanks to Zoom, she was able to access our online programs.. Another
client was traveling and reported feeling as if she stayed connected even when
they were out of state. All PRS were welcome to join our groups and they
enjoyed the positive benefit of staying in touch.
We received mixed reactions as PRS learned to adapt to our
new reality. Some individuals still wanted services in person while others
chose to interact online. Clinicians and Day Service staff related to PRS fears
of catching the virus and wanting to stay as safe as possible. Luckily we can
share that (spoiler alert!) in the last 14 months, there’s never been a single
outbreak in our Day Program or any satellite locations at Support, Inc. Still,
so much was unknown at this time, and safety remained a top priority.
In the first quarter of the pandemic, we ramped up our
training program for DSPs. Support, Inc. as an agency decided early on to stay
open and to not lay anyone off. Shelby drafted a training program online for
new DSPs and this implemented almost as quickly as it was developed. For any
trainings required in-person, we reduced these class sizes from 20 to 3. We
also trained on the psychological effects of the pandemic and how to embody a
DSP during the pandemic. We sensed the hesitancy of applicants to join Support,
Inc. in such a tumultuous and unprecedented time. Supervisors and managers of
Day Services learned how to support new employees by being transparent about
their efforts to keep everyone safe.
From gathering PPE and social distancing to teaching our PRS basic
hygiene skills, we offered multiple ways to stay safe despite the
such as hand-outs for in-person visits proved to be useful, too. Our Associate
Director of Quality Assurance developed a new form called What to Expect from a
DSP Visit for clients, providers and FCGs. This document set the groundwork for
expectations and boundaries. We also used a screening tool “Questions to ask
before you go into a home”. Clinicians reported feeling like the company as a
whole supported them with these materials. Screening cards were implemented and
a supervisor created a Formstack screening tool for DSPs to use on their phones.
If all symptoms were no, you’re good. If someone answered yes to one or more
symptoms, the results were sent to the supervisor to be researched further.
One final cultural change we worked on was encouraging people to stay home when they didn’t feel well. An extra bank of sick time was created to support our staff, so if they went to get tested, we would pay them for this. We would mitigate the financial strain of having to take time off. From our Day Services staff to Clinical Team and beyond, everyone internally has stepped up to ask “What can I do to help operate safely”. Support, Inc. as a whole has taken the virus and this pandemic very seriously since Day One. We remain proud to report zero outbreaks at the organization and continue to work as safely and efficiently as possible.
For more information on the fun and engaging activities we host, please visit our website at www.supportinc.com