Friday, June 14, 2019

Good News Friday!

Last week, one of my favorite events at Imagine! took place: Messy Play Day.

What is Messy Play Day? Messy Play Day is one of Imagine!'s Dayspring department's Community Calendar Activities (CCAs). CCAs introduce young children with developmental delays and disabilities to places in our community that offer great activities and opportunities for children to meet their goals through fun and play. All activities encourage motor, sensory, social-emotional, cognitive, and speech-language development.

Messy Play Day is designed to introduce new sensory experiences to the children in a safe and comfortable environment. Learning occurs as children touch, manipulate, experiment, and talk about things, while interacting with people who facilitate without directing.

But the paragraphs above are just words. Take a look at the video below of some of the Messy Play Day sensory activities to see what the words look like in action.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Technology Tuesday

In late May, Imagine!'s Adult Day Program visited the Loveland Public Library to play with fun tech toys: 3D printing, virtual reality, and Xbox on the big screen! Thanks a million to the library for being great hosts and having fun with us! Melissa used the 3D printer to make that necklace she's wearing and painted it in art class!

Friday, June 7, 2019

Good News Friday!

The opening night reception of the Annual Imagine! CORE/Labor Source (CLS) Art Show at the Dairy Arts Center is set for June 21. Join us for art (there will be an interactive mask making table), music (there will be a performance by CLS musicians at 6:30), and an appreciation of the amazing artists who accept services from Imagine!. The art show, “Masks: How I Feel on the Inside” runs from June 21 – July 14. We’re also very excited to team up with Museo de las Americas for this exhibit!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Just The Facts

This is a blog post about facts.

On July 18, 2007, David Braddock, who at the time was the Executive Director of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities, provided testimony to a Colorado Senate/House interim committee on developmental disabilities.

In his testimony, Braddock argued that Colorado was at a “turning point” in terms of its need to reframe and/or significantly expand its resource commitments for intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) services. Historically, Braddock argued, Colorado’s fiscal effort for I/DD services (spending for those services as a fraction of aggregate statewide personal income) had been significantly below the average US state for 30 years, and that the gap was widening.

Did this powerful testimony help Colorado act on the turning point he mentioned? No. The gap is wider still.

There is plenty of data to support this fact, but I’ll just focus on a few numbers. In 1977, Colorado’s fiscal effort for I/DD services was $2.17 per $1000 of personal income. Nationwide, that number was $2.24. Fast forward to 2015, the last year we have data for this, Colorado’s fiscal effort was $2.29. Nationwide, that number was $4.30. (Just for fun, the top state is investing $9.20 per $1000 of personal income).

In 1977, Colorado was essentially average among states in its fiscal effort toward serving our fellow citizens with I/DD. Now, we are substantially below average, ranked 47th in the nation when compared to other states. Colorado was already poorly ranked when Braddock presented in 2007 (46th), so we have seen a further decline.

Meanwhile, Colorado’s population continues to grow and its economy is consistently ranked among the top 10 in the nation, and recently as high as 5th in the nation. So we could have acted at any time since Braddock’s testimony and haven’t.

Who is responsible for our state’s inability to act on Dr. Braddock’s dire warnings over a decade below? Any number of stakeholders could have stepped forward and worked to implement some of his suggestions, including taxpayers, voters, professional advocates, policy makers, legislators, the Joint Budget Committee, and various Governors, but none did. Colorado lacks a true champion for people with I/DD at the decision making level, and it shows.

The turning point in Colorado referenced by Dr. Braddock is still there. It’s not a secret. However, we can still act. The next time you are in a group of people, simply explain this situation and ask, “Are we OK with this?” “Show of hands.” Let’s see if we can discover the conscience of Colorado.

At some point, our state needs to make a decision: is this lack of support for people with disabilities what we want our state to be known for? If the answer is yes, then ethically we should encourage families to shop other states. We don’t need to change anything. If the answer is no, then put the state’s conscience to work; figure out how to enact real, meaningful, and lasting change to its support of individuals with I/DD.

Then again, what do I know?

Friday, May 31, 2019

Good News Friday!

Congrats to Imagine!'s Out & About adult participants for completing a 5K race a couple of weeks ago. Hosted by Two Angels Foundation, Inc., our participants geared up for this event all spring by training and raising money. It was a huge success and we look forward to doing it again next year!

Friday, May 24, 2019

Good News Friday!

Mandy, who accepts services from Imagine!, participated in a “Maker Monday” at the Loveland Library this past Monday. Maker Mondays are hosted by the Loveland Library the first and third Monday of every month for fun STEM maker activities, and Mandy’s presentation fit the bill perfectly.

Mandy has been working with Imagine’s Stephanie Kenealy on an interactive book using the TAPit, an interactive computer station designed for individuals with disabilities used by Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source team. For Maker Monday, Mandy read her book using the TAPit at the library to a group of younger children.

Thanks to library employees Erik & Beth, who were a huge help in making the Maker Monday event happen.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Technology Tuesday

Today, I am pleased to share the final report of the Imagine! Remote Supports demonstration for people with intellectual disabilities. You can find the full report here, and below is the report's Executive Summary, showing that Remote Supports can cost effectively help people live independently with increased safety and self-reliance. 

Imagine! has a long standing reputation as a leader in bringing technology solutions to Long Term Care (LTC) services. One simple and obvious solution that has not been embraced by the State of Colorado is Remote Supports. Remote Supports consists of a system of sensors and devices designed to monitor a person’s environment and alert caregivers of situations that need attention. Such situations can include flooding because a sink overflowed or danger of fire because a stove was left unattended. The current Colorado Developmental Disabilities waiver system does not allow complete reimbursement for these types of supports.

Many states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Missouri and Connecticut will cover costs associated with a remote monitoring system including hardware, installation and monthly service fees. These states have recognized the value of using technology to support independence without sacrificing the health and safety of the individual. In an age of dwindling human resources and ever tighter Medicaid dollars the embracing of these technological supports is becoming a necessity.

In 2014, Imagine! received a commitment of $100,000 from the Aaron Matthew Tuneberg Memorial Fund to create a three-year, replicable pilot project that used technological supports to improve the safety of Colorado citizens with intellectual or developmental disabilities who are able to live independently or with limited supports in their communities.

The goal of the pilot project was to install Remote Support systems with as many individuals as possible, and to measure the systems’ effectiveness. Imagine! chose to partner with SimplyHome, a North Carolina and Wisconsin-based company that provides a system called “The Butler” to help individuals live more independently. The SimplyHome system uses a central control unit to send alerts to caregiver/s based on rules defined by the caregiver and data collected from a variety of sensors including heat, motion and water.

Over three years, Imagine! installed fifteen Butler systems in individual’s homes and assessed how these systems impacted areas of concern when it came to safety. Imagine! examined data from surveys conducted with caregivers, alert data produced from the SimplyHome system and incident reports involving individuals in the pilot. We found that overall, the SimplyHome system increased the person’s health and safety while preserving their independence. These results support what other states already know: remote supports can reduce costs of LTC and users enjoy the benefit of personal freedoms and self-reliance.