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COVID-19 and Flu Season Updates

The following write-up was produced by our Associate Director of Quality Assurance, Laura Viers:

I hope this message finds you well. I wanted to provide a quick update on COVID-19 in the state.

On September 12th Governor Polis extended the statewide mask mandate. The mandate first went into effect in July and is reviewed every 30 days to extend the order as necessary. The order requires wearing a mask or face covering, that covers the nose and mouth, when entering or moving within any public indoor space.

Over the last few weeks, Colorado has seen an increase in positive COVID-19 cases and increased hospitalizations due to COVID-19. Colorado has moved to using a dial framework to determine the “openness” of each county. This is a change from the previous statewide level’s we saw several months ago. The dial framework has five levels and individual counties may move between these levels. Counties determine their level based on 1) new cases- the rate the virus is circulating in a county 2) percent positivity- is there sufficient COVID-19 testing to capture the rate of viral transmission  and, 3) the impact on local hospitals- whether hospitalizations are increasing, decreasing or stabilizing. Counties consult with CDPHE (Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment) to move to less restrictive levels when they meet and sustain all three of these metrics for two weeks. Use this link to see what level your county is in.

As Colorado experiences an overall increase in cases and hospitalization, it’s important we remain up to date and stay diligent to protect ourselves and others. The best way to protect yourself, the individual’s you support, and your family is to continue infection control practices. This includes wearing a mask when you are in public, staying 6 feet apart from people you don’t live with and wash your hands/ use hand sanitizer frequently especially after touching shared surfaces and before and after taking off your mask/ face covering. 

As summer comes to an end and fall is just around the corner, so if flu season. This year more than ever the CDC encourages people to get a flu vaccination. Everyone over the age of 6 months is encouraged to get a flu vaccine by the end of October. Vaccinations for high risk person’s is especially important. Many risk factors that put people at high risk for complications due to COVID-19 also put people at high risk for experiencing complications due to the flu. These risk factors shared by both viruses are; people over the age of 65, chronic health conditions including asthma, diabetes, heart and lunch conditions and women who are pregnant. COVID-19 and the flu share many similar symptoms which may make it difficult for physician’s to diagnosis which virus someone is suffering from. There are several options to get your flu shot however because of the pandemic and social distancing measures, most places will require an appointment. You can get a flu shot at your local pharmacy, community health clinic or primary care physician’s office, call first to schedule an appointment.

As always please don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or your RPC with any questions you have.

Thank you,

Laura Viers
Associate Director of Quality Assurance

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LIFE Club Events This Week!

Tuesday, September 29

Pop Culture Group: Voting and Civic Engagement

When:  Tuesday, September 29 from 10:00am-11:00am

What:  Pop Culture Group is an opportunity for clients to come together and connect over their common interests and explore new ideas at the same time. Come for an opportunity to express your human rights. We will learn about government, civic engagement, and how to participate. Why is everyone talking about registering to vote?! Let’s find out! Pop Culture Group is open to all.

Instructions:  In order to participate, please follow https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83324855770 at 10:00am to participate. Everyone is welcome! Contact meredith.kane@supportinc.com for any questions. All are welcome!

LIFE Club:  Spooky Snacks

When:  Tuesday, September 29 from 5:00pm-6:00pm

What: Join us for an evening of friendship, discussion, and learning! These interactive groups will focus on developing skills and confidence for social situations in a way that is fun and informative! It’s time for another Spooktacular cooking tutorial! Join us as we make all sorts of creepy crawly snacks like ghosts and spiders. This is a great way to kick off the fall season! A list of suggestions is attached to this email. LIFE Club is open to all.

Instructions:  In order to participate, please follow https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88541386228 at 5:00pm to participate. Contact christopher.sharkey@supportinc.com or gwen.bonilla@supportinc.com for any questions. Everyone is welcome!

Wednesday, September 30

Moving and Grooving:  Dance Party!

When:  Wednesday, September 30 from 12:00pm-1:00pm

What:  We will join together to discuss life’s stressors while improving the physical health of our bodies to create a healthy lifestyle by learning helpful social and exercise habits. Thisgroupwill incorporate a different movement activity every session. This week is all about disco! Learn how funky dance moves can be a fun form of exercise. This is a great opportunity to be active during a virtual time. Adaptable for all abilities! Moving and Grooving is open to all.

Instructions:  In order to participate, please follow https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85277454478  at 12:00pm to participate. Everyone is welcome! Contact ashley.treiber@supportinc.com or meredith.kane@supportinc.com for any questions. Everyone is welcome!

Thursday, October 1

Touching Stories

When:  Thursday, October 1 from 11:00am-12:00pm

What: Touching Stories is a unique therapy model, specifically designed for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, that pairs the social and emotional learning of story with sensory integration activities in a way that is educational, engaging, and simply, a lot of fun! We have adapted our Touching Stories for at home use. Gwen and Meredith will first lead participants in a scavenger hunt for the sensory items needed for the stories (all items are common items found in every home) and then will tell the sensory-based stories to the group. Please see the attached list for scavenger hunt items. If you are curious to learn more, please watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EcjzvevJ9_w&t=67s. Touching Stories is open to all.

Instructions:  In order to participate, please follow https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86143640216 at 11:00am to participate. Everyone is welcome! Contact gwen.bonilla@supportinc.com or meredith.kane@supportinc.com for any questions. Everyone is welcome!

Friday, October 2

Pop Culture Group: Don’t be a Scaredy Cat

When:  Friday, October 2 from 12:00pm-1:00pm

What:  Pop Culture Group is an opportunity for clients to come together and connect over their common interests and explore new ideas at the same time. Join us as we talk about ghost stories, Halloween, and about how other cultures celebrate this time of year. This is what we have all been waiting for! Bring your talents, enthusiasm, and support for our friends as we show off our talents and talk about our favorite hobbies. Make sure to invite everyone in your house to show off your new skills in performance! Pop Culture Group is open to all.

Instructions:  In order to participate, please follow https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83324855770 at 12:00pm to participate. Everyone is welcome! Contact meredith.kane@supportinc.com for any questions. All are welcome!

Items Needed for Thursday, October 1

We’ll do two stories:

Stone Soup Scavenger Hunt!

Draw or cut out pictures of

  1. A potato
  2. A tomato
  3. An onion
  4. A zucchini

Find the following items:

  1. A large cooking pot
  2. A flat, round rock (about the size of your hand)
  3. Black pepper
  4. A shirt with a pocket (put the potato picture in the pocket)
  5. A folded blanket or towel (put the tomato picture within the folds)
  6. A pair of pants with a pocket (put the picture of the onion in the pocket)
  7. A boot (put the picture of the zucchini in the boot)
  8. A large spoon
  9. A plate (preferably plastic or metal)
  10. An apple (or something that smells like apple)

Lay the items out in order.  Position the client so that (s)he is sitting at a table

Writing Our Own Story!

*Let’s work together and create our own story for Touching Stories. The only thing you need to bring is yourself.

Spooky Snacks For LIFE Club

Suggested items for Spooky Snacks! (Any or all that you can get at the store or have on hand)

Marshmallows

Stick pretzels

Apple Slices

Carmel Dip

Mini Carrots

Peanut butter

Graham Crackers

Popcorn

Raisins

Candy Corn

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Self-Care Tips and Tricks from the STAR Committee

The Support, Inc. STAR Committee gathered recently to brainstorm new ideas for a self-care series for employees. The group cleverly named this initiative Fall Into Care and hosted it’s first session yesterday. This three-part series aims to discuss self-care management during a pandemic with different themes for each event. For the second session, the Committee will host a media swap and the third meeting in November will cover winter blues prevention tactics.

From trying new recipes to visiting the Wild Animal Sanctuary, the group covered a range of topics and ideas for remaining upbeat. This outlet also provided an opportunity to vent about the year without judgement. And while it’s great to stay productive, the group agreed that downtime is important, as well. Brene Brown discusses overperforming in her podcast, and a nod to this episode reminded the group that it’s okay to take a break and just chill.

The STAR Committee serves employees of Support with three objectives in mind: Fostering a positive work culture, promoting employee appreciation and encouraging self-care. The Committee understands what a challenging year this has been and will continue to promote internal opportunities for connection within the organization. In addition, further considerations to explore and strengthen relationships amongst host home providers and their teams will be explored, as well. For clients to connect with their peers, please see our weekly LIFE Club updates on the blog for more information.

Sometimes it’s hard to manage self-care when a pandemic requires us to isolate and maintain social distance. But this doesn’t mean there’s not other ways to connect with people. And this certainly doesn’t mean we can’t still find joy in our everyday lives.

The STAR Committee created a flyer to share with employees and members of the agency. Feel free to share your ideas below-we would love to learn more ideas for self-care in 2020!

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COVID-19 Resources from the Arc

The Arc has released a list of COVID-19 resources to share for people with disabilities, their families, and the workforce that supports them. As we know, COVID-19 and other public health crisis disproportionately affect people with disabilities. Luckily, the Arc has taken action steps to close the gap on these inequities.

In addition to their advocacy work on the hill for essential workers, the Arc has produced several Plain Language documents to explain the pandemic in basic terms. The Arc is also hosting a Town Hall online on October 7th to discuss their response to COVID-19 and future plans.

For more information, refer to this link. And for more information regarding the Arc of Colorado, refer to their website. Here, you will find specific information such as where to find testing, and guidance on returning to day program and school. The Arc of Colorado also relays several resources for rent and food assistance and links to HCPF updates.

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COVID-19 Operating Protocol

Procedure for all employees and contractors

Support, Inc. will monitor developments of COVID -19 and follow recommendations and orders of the CDC, CDPHE, HCPF, CMS, state and county governments. This protocol will be updated as needed with any changes. Support, Inc. will provide on-going updates and communication through email, website and social media. Posters will be put up in common areas of the office to encourage employees to stay home when sick and provide infection control steps and cough and sneeze etiquette.

The following rules apply for anyone who is sick, showing signs or symptoms of COVID-19, has been exposed to someone presumed to have COVID-19 for having or known to have COVID-19:

· Employees should not visit the office or have contact with individuals in services and will follow the COVID-19 exposure procedure. Employees will immediately report their symptoms or exposure details to their supervisor.

· Contractors should not visit the office. The provider will immediately inform their Residential Program Coordinator and begin to self-isolate in a designated room of the home. When possible, a certified co-provider without symptoms or exposure should provide all direct care. If a certified co-provider is not available, the provider should follow universal precautions when interacting and providing care to individuals in the home. This includes wearing a mask and gloves and following infection control steps.

All employees and contractors will follow infection control practices to protect against the spread of illness.

Employees and contractors will stay informed of developments of COVID-19, recommendations from state and federal authorities, and local ordinances and restrictions. Employees will stay in close communication with individuals in service, providers and their supervisor to help navigate potential high-risk activities. Examples of situations that should be discuss include;

· Air travel

· Travel to high-risk areas or areas designated as ‘hot-spots’

· Attending gathering of 10 or more people

· Participating in activities where people will not be social distancing

· Participating in activities that will put you in close contact with other people or activities in which you have to share tools or equipment with others

Employees and contractors will also consider their own personal risk factors and those of the individual when discussing the above situations. The following groups of people are considered to be high risk of experiencing complications due to COVID- 19:

· People 65 years of age or older

· People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma

· People who have a serious heart condition

· Those who are immunocompromised

· Pregnant women

· Those determined to be high risk by a licensed healthcare provider

· Anyone living in a home with an individual considered vulnerable

Prior to an individual in services returning to work or day program services, an IDT meeting will be held and documented. The IDT will discuss the following to determine the appropriateness of the individual returning;

· Individual risk factors noted above

· The individual’s ability and willingness to wear a mask or face covering

· The individual’s ability and willingness to maintain social distancing

· How the individual will be transported to and from day program/work

· How the day program/work site will ensure the individual’s health and safety such as social distancing, mask wearing, and how outbreaks will be communicated

The Associate Director of Quality Assurance will respond to COVID-19 concerns and questions by email laura.viers@supportinc.com or phone 970-667-7424 ext.200.

Operating protocol for Aurora office use:

Employees who can should work from home as much as possible. When using the office:

· Employees will utilize the calendar to schedule times they will be in the office.

· In-person meeting and trainings at the office will have no more than 6 people.

· The conference rooms will be marked indicating 6 feet between chairs. Chairs will not be moved from these markings.

· The office will be cleaned on a regular basis, and disinfectant wipes/spray will be available for employees to use as needed.

· All employees will wear a face covering or mask in the office when social distancing (6 feet between people) is not able to be maintained or the environment may be unpredictable.

o Example of unpredictable environments are walking around office areas such as bathrooms, kitchen, printer area, etc.

Visitors will not be permitted into the office without appointment.

· All visitors are required to wear face masks or face coverings when entering the office.

· Prior to entry, all visitors will be screened for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 using Support, Inc.’s screening questions.

· Contractors are asked to scan, fax or take pictures of any paperwork or receipts to send into the office instead of dropping off hard copies.

Operating protocol for site-based services

Prior to any individual receiving group day habilitation services, Support, Inc. will review the person’s vulnerability/risk level, ability and willingness to follow social distancing orders and wearing a mask or face covering. The following groups of people are considered to be high risk for experiencing complications due to COVID-19:

§ People 65 years of age or older

§ People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma

§ People who have a serious heart condition§ Those who are immunocompromised

§ Pregnant women

§ Those determined to be high risk by a licensed healthcare provider

§ Anyone living in a home with an individual considered vulnerable

1. The setting will not exceed capacity to the point of reducing safe and appropriate social distancing (at least 6 feet between people).

a. Staff will encourage and maintain social distancing between people during dining, when in motion around the site, and during other activities.

b. There will be a minimum of 50 square feet per person in the space.

2. Face masks or face coverings will be worn

a. All staff will wear a face mask or face covering while rendering services.

b. Participants are encouraged to wear a mask or face covering.

i. Support, Inc. has provided re-usable face coverings for all participants.

ii. Staff will educate, encourage and monitor participant use of masks.

3. Participants must safely travel to/from the setting. Social distancing must be maintained during transportation. If non-medical transportation is utilized, rides will be limited to:

a. One person per 5-passenger vehicle

b. Two people per 7-passenger vehicle

c. Five people per 15-passsenger vehicles.

d. If individuals reside in the same home, they may travel together without restrictions.

4. Appropriate facility cleaning methods will be followed:

a. The location will be professionally cleaned Monday-Friday

b. The location will be professionally disinfected meeting EPA requirements every other week

c. On-going cleaning and disinfecting will occur daily on frequently touched/ used surfaces including but not limited to door handles, tables, activity supplies, etc.

5. Prior to any staff or members entering the settings, limited health screening will be completed by the floor supervisor. Limited health screenings of employees will be recorded and filed in SharePoint. The screening will include;

i. Symptom screening

ii. Temperature taken

iii. Travel screening

6. In the event of an outbreak of COVID-19 or potential exposure, Support, Inc. will communicate on an individual, case by case basis.

7. If further restrictions or program closures must occur, changes will be communicated to participants and providers through email, website, in-person and/or automated phone message.

Operating protocol for ‘other’ client contact

1. Before visiting an individual, employees will complete COVID-19 screening questions prior to arriving to the home. Providers will communicate to staff should the individual develop signs or symptoms of COVID-19 to determine appropriateness of the staff visiting.

2. Social distancing (at least 6 feet between people) will be maintained when possible.

3. Staff will wear a face covering or mask at all times.Support, Inc. screening questions:

  1. Do you or anyone in your home have the presence of any of these flu-like symptoms?
    1. Fever or chills
    2. Cough
    3. Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
    4. Muscle or body aches
    5. New loss of taste or smell
    6. Sore throat
  2. In the past 14 days, have you or anyone in the home had contact with someone who has been exposed to or has been diagnosed with COVID-19?
  3. In the past 14 days, have you or anyone in the home traveled via airplane internationally or domestically?

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Knowing Your Risk During COVID-19

What to know before going out

  • The more closely you interact with others and the longer that interaction, the higher risk of COVID-19 spread.
  • Keep these items with you when venturing out;
    • Cloth face covering
    • Tissues
    • Hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Some people have the virus and don’t have any symptoms

Things to think about before going out

  • How many people will you interact with?
    • Interacting with more people raises your risk
    • Being in a group with people who aren’t social distancing or wearing cloth face coverings increase your risk.
  • Can you keep 6 feet of space between you and others?
    • The closer you are to other people who may be infected, the greater our risk of getting sick.
  • Will you be indoors or outdoors?
    • Indoor spaces have less ventilation and might be harder to keep people apart.
  • What’s the length of time that you will be interacting with people?
    • Spending more time with people who may be infected increases your risk of becoming infected.
    • Spending more time with people increases their risk of becoming infected if there is any chance that you may already be infect.

Consider before you go

  • Is COVID-19 spreading in my community?
  • What are the local orders in my community?
  • Will my activity put me in close contact with others?
  • Am I at risk for severe illness?
  • Do I live with someone who is at risk for severe illness?
  • Do I practice every day preventative actions?
  • Will I share any items, equipment or tools with other people?
  • Will I need to take public transportation to get to the activity?
  • Does my activity require travel to another community?
  • If I get sick with COVID-19, will I have to miss work?
  • Do I know what to do if I get sick?
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COVID-19 Updates

From CEO Bentley Smith:

Great job to everyone following the recommended infection control protocols by the Centers for Disease Control and local guidance published by the Colorado Department of Public Environment (CDPHE).  We have had some close calls, but no major known exposures or outbreaks. 

Looking forward to the upcoming summer season, and the lowering of restrictions in our communities, it is imperative that we continue to remain vigilant.  This means following the infection control standards, making informed decisions about activities you may be considering, and discussing your activities with your Support, Inc. team when needed.  The individuals that we serve are considered highly vulnerable to COVID-19, and therefore we all must diligently follow the guidance and limit everyone’s exposure to stop the spread.

You can visit Support, Inc.’s website for the latest news and information, or the CDPHE website for more COVID-19 related information.  Links are below:

Link to Support, Inc. Newsfeed

Link to CDPHE’s COVID-19 Website

We also have our updated screening questions to be used before entering client homes. We will use this same screening tool for visitors entering our offices. For any questions on the screening assessment, please contact Laura at Laura.Viers@supportinc.com

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Quarantine Fatigue: Tips to Battle the Blues

Quarantine fatigue has been described as the restlessness we feel from staying home so often. We’re itching to get out and for life to return to normal.

While we continue to practice social distancing, please remember to go easy on yourself. Rather than denying how we feel, often times it is best to acknowledge the things outside of our control so we can focus on the things we are able to control. It’s okay to feel sad, tired, bored and depressed. Allow yourself some time to identify these feelings before turning to coping mechanisms.

This is your weekly reminder to allow yourself some grace. It’s totally normal to not feel normal right now, and the least we can do is be kind to ourselves and one another.

Should you need some ideas of things to do at home, please refer to the list below. We continue to support our individuals in services and will be here if you need anything.

  1. Garden
  2. Play board games/sports/video games
  3. Have a scavenger hunt
  4. Learn to cook a new recipe
  5. Schedule virtual hangouts with friends and family
  6. Watch backyard movies
  7. Camp in your living room
  8. Listen to a new podcast
  9. Tour a museum or zoo online
  10. Follow up on those New Years Resolutions

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DSP Home Visits

We continue to exercise caution when deploying DSPs to community settings, and by this point, many sessions are being enjoyed in client homes.

The 4 goals we have for these sessions (aside from person-specific goals) include the following:
1. Mitigating Boredom
2. Getting Enough Physical Activity
3. Maintaining Social Connections
4. Meeting Physical/Tangible Needs

With this, we have our guidelines for DSP visits. For further questions, please contact Meghan at Meghan.steineker@supportinc.com