Since 1984, Helping Hand Center has operated a 16-bed Intermediate Care Facility (ICF) for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Located in a 100-year old former convent, the building was not accessible which became increasingly problematic as its residents aged. At the same time, Helping Hand identified a significant increase in need for specialized services for aging individuals with developmental disabilities across its entire organization, beyond those residing in its ICF.
Helping Hand undertook a two-phased project to address immediate and long-term residential needs as well as concerns regarding aging clients. Phase 1 addressed the transition of 15 clients who were living at the ICF into three Community Integrated Living Arrangements (CILA) homes located in residential neighborhoods. Clients were actively involved in the transition process and have reported high satisfaction with their new homes since arriving there in Spring of 2013.
Phase 2 included the development and implementation of a long-term plan to address the aging concerns in Helping Hand’s residential and day services. Staff were trained in best practices and programming for people with developmental disabilities who are aging. Partnerships were established with qualified providers to provide short-term skilled rehabilitative services and hospice services. A continuum of aging services was initiated including leisure groups and a specialized room with programs using the GRACE curriculum which was developed by the Intersect for Ability network. In addition, Helping Hand opened its first “aging in place” home where 4 clients now reside.
- 4 new residential group homes were purchased, renovated and opened
- 19 individuals moved into these homes
- A continuum of aging services was developed, including a specialized “aging home” where 4 clients can age in place with alternative day programming provided in the home
- 50+ internal staff and 25+ external partners were trained on the GRACE curriculum which addresses dementia and aging concerns for people with developmental disabilities.
Key Lesson Learned: Small residential settings can have significant quality of life benefits
Helping Hand Center did not anticipate the full extent of the benefits its clients would experience in moving to smaller, more individualized settings. Staff and families have reported increased social interactions and independence for clients involved in the ICF to CILA transition. One client received the organization’s Annual Client Achievement Award for his significant strides with independence in all aspects of his life including self-care and social engagement.
Key Lesson Learned: GRACE curriculum on aging driving gains in satisfaction
Helping Hand reports, “It’s amazing to see how much happier our clients are in our aging program. One client had been waiting to “retire” for years, and he finally had his chance to “slow down” with our new leisure program track. Clients who were struggling in traditional settings have thrived with staff who are trained to understand their needs and programming that is a fit.