Friday, March 30, 2012

Good News Friday!

Today I’d like to share another success story from our Imagine! Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) department. They do great work and it is always nice to hear about the positive impact they are having on the lives of those they serve. Thanks to Dr. Jeff Kupfer for sharing this information.
“Laura” was 21 years old when she was referred to Imagine! Behavioral Health Services (IBHS) to address her violent behaviors. These acts of intense physical aggression were reported to occur without provocation many times each day and seemed to be directed indiscriminately toward others and toward her parents, who were her primary caregivers. Laura required immediate physical restraint in order to keep her and others safe from severe injury. She rarely entered community settings and could not participate in educational, vocational, or social activities without her parents present for physical intervention. Laura’s behaviors had required pharmacological treatment, and she received large doses of psychotropic medications, which had little effect in managing her violent behaviors.

Upon referral to IBHS, Laura received a thorough Functional Behavior Assessment to determine the factors behind the acts of physical aggression. Her IBHS Behavior Team developed a comprehensive treatment plan that was coordinated with her psychiatrist. Her parents and caregivers were taught how to prevent escalation of violent acts, as well as more effective ways to intervene to minimize danger. One of the most effective methods to prevent Laura’s violent behaviors was teaching her alternative ways to communicate with others and practicing these skills in multiple settings. Within the first month of behavior treatment, Laura’s acts of physical aggression had decreased by nearly 50%. As Laura’s behavior improved, she was able to decrease some of her psychotropic medications and replace others with medications that had less detrimental side-effects.

Today, Laura enjoys participating in her day program activities and other recreational events. Acts of physical aggression are rare and isolated. She responds well to directions by others and has not needed physical restraint to manage her aggression in more than six months.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Understanding The Data

Today I would like to introduce Rebecca Novinger, who has been hired as Imagine!’s Director of Client Relations. Rebecca’s former job was Special Programs Coordinator at the Marion Downs Hearing Center.

Rebecca has a B.A. in Psychology from Pennsylvania State University, and an M.S. in Health Systems Management from George Mason University.

Rebecca will be responsible for the overall direction, support, and financial operation of Client Relations, Family Services, and Care Coordination at Imagine!. In her role, she will manage client relations, experiences, and data resources to ensure efficiency, manage costs, support decisions, maintain corporate agility, and ensure quality of care coordination, regulatory compliance, and operational efficiency.

But what does that really mean, and why is it so important for Imagine!? In the past, I’m afraid I haven’t always been successful in explaining to our staff members and other stakeholders about this position and why it is vital to our long-term success.

That is why I was so pleased to recently come across an article in the Harvard Business Review entitled “Good Data Won't Guarantee Good Decisions.” This article explains far better than I have been able to what we are hoping to achieve through the creation of this new position at Imagine!.

As the article points out, “The ability to gather, store, access, and analyze data has grown exponentially over the past decade, and companies now spend tens of millions of dollars to manage the information streaming in from suppliers and customers.” This holds true for organizations in the not-for-profit and human services worlds.

Unfortunately, the new challenge is how to incorporate this data into complex decision making. The article also makes the point that too many organizations expend considerable resources on collecting data, but very few resources are invested in understanding the data. This also holds true for organizations in the not-for-profit and human services worlds.

So that will be a big part of Rebecca’s job moving forward – understanding the huge amount of data we have at Imagine! in order to help direct our decision making moving forward. Anyone looking down the road a bit can see why this will be so important. The current system of funding services in our state, and indeed most of the nation, is unsustainable. Compounding that problem, the “silver tsunami” of aging baby boomers will mean that the demand for the services we provide will be higher than ever, and the number of people available to meet that demand will be extremely limited.

Therefore, the time to start preparing is now. But we shouldn’t just try and guess what we should do – and we don’t have to. The data we already have provides an opportunity to create a roadmap for the future, if we can understand the data and use it to our benefit.

I am so excited to have Rebecca as the person to help create that roadmap for Imagine!. I think her efforts will put us in the position to create a sustainable organization that will continue to provide superior services to some of our most vulnerable citizens for years to come.

Then again, what do I know?

Interested in learning more? You can contact Rebecca at

Friday, March 23, 2012

Good News Friday!

This past February, Dick Bryant, with the Knights of Columbus Boulder Council 1183, presented a check for $860 to Jane Sprague from Imagine!'s Dayspring department. The funds were raised by the Knights' Tootsie Roll Drive to help families who have children with developmental disabilities and delays to attend activities in the community that support the therapies children are getting in their homes.

The Boulder Knights have supported Imagine! and the children we serve by donating a total of $12,394 to the organization over the past decade! Thank you, Knights!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Uncommon People

Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to talk with people in a variety of organizations and State departments. Most of the conversations have been directed at seeking solutions to resolve the many issues and challenges facing the State's leadership with respect to serving the most vulnerable citizens. What were human services and supports appears to be transforming to healthcare and wellness. As much as the question of vulnerability equating to illness bothers me, that is not the conversation takeaway that I want to share. The conversations compelled me to look closer to home; to recognize what an amazing team of leaders I get to work with at Imagine!. The guidance and wisdom of our volunteer Board of Directors, the knowledge and innovation of our Executive Team, and the resolve of managers who insist on quality outcomes, is truly inspiring. They continually bring ideas and solutions to some of the most puzzling circumstances. This team of uncommon people understands the need for resource planning, analysis, and completing subject matter research. They understand the need to engage all parties who may benefit from their innovations. What a wonderful atmosphere this is. What great fortune for me to be associated with such talented thinkers. If nothing else, this solid foundation allows me to continue with confidence, to be unafraid when approaching issues and challenges facing our most vulnerable citizens; such as the thought that vulnerability could possibly be equated with illness.
Then again, what do I know?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Good News Friday!

A big part of Imagine!’s mission is to provide the individuals we serve with opportunities to contribute to their communities. Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department has embodied this mission by creating volunteer opportunities for participants in their programs.

In addition to being a very tangible way to be part of a community, the volunteering opportunities can help individuals develop job skills and help facilitate a transition to supported paid employment.

Below are some photos of CORE/Labor Source volunteers in action.

At Community Food Share (when these pictures were taken, the volunteers were scooping beans into one pound bags to be weighed and sealed by other volunteers):

Anthony is scooping out beans to make one pound bags

Kyle and Corrina sure are enjoying themselves

For the past three years, a volunteer crew from CORE/Labor Source has folded inserts and put them into church bulletins at Mt. Zion Lutheran Church in Boulder:

Dale, in blue shirt, folds inserts for the church bulletin while CORE/Labor Source Instructor Jason provides minimal assistance and praise for a job well done

Eddie needs some assistance but is happy to fold an insert for the church bulletin

Monday, March 12, 2012

Any Questions?

On Monday, March 19, 5:30 – 7:00 PM, the Colorado Departments of Health Care Policy and Financing, Human Services, and Public Health and Environment is inviting stakeholders to attend a community forum in Westminster, or by joining in by phone, to discuss the redesign of Colorado's long-term services and supports system. Details on how to participate are below.

As you may know, the Departments have submitted a proposal to the Joint Budget Committee that included a suggestion to relocate the Division for Developmental Disabilities, the State Unit on Aging and the Children's Residential Habilitation Program from the Department of Human Services to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. This proposal will require new legislation to make this change.

The departments are inviting families, partners and stakeholders to provide input on this proposal.

We at Imagine! are concerned, given the previous 50 years of thoughtful legislation, that the proposal has not received the consideration that such a significant change in our system should merit. Do the potential benefits outweigh the risks? Therefore, we are encouraging all interested parties to attend this community forum, and to seek answers to important questions, such as:

Why is it so important to have this move completed by July 1st of this year?

Will this move help get people off of the large waitlist we have for services? If so, how?

Will this move address the State’s current financial shortfall of funding for services for individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities? If so, how?

There are no fewer than twenty state programs, some operating independently, others in conjunction with one another, that address the needs of individuals who have intellectual and developmental disabilities in our State. Given that only some these programs will be moved in the proposed redesign, how will this redesign make it easier for families to navigate through the system?

It has been suggested that the move might bring more money into the system by opening up access to more federal grants and programs. What specific grants and programs only become available because of this move?

Forty-eight other states are designed similar to Colorado’s current configuration, which suggests that this is not a Federal mandate. Who then, is suggesting that this is good for Colorado?

The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, as a Medicaid agency, is generally viewed as a public benefits manager, much the same as an insurance agent. How can we be sure that decisions moving forward are for the benefit of the individual and family?

What happens if legislation approving this redesign does not pass?

Here are the details about the upcoming community forum:

When: Monday, March 19, 2012, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.

Where: Westminster Public Library -- College Hill Branch, 3705 West 112th Avenue, Room L-211, Westminster, CO 80031

For those unable to attend in person, you may join the discussion by phone:
1-877-820-7831 (toll free)
Participant pass-code: 447596

Please RSVP to Jerri Spear at or 303-915-8764.

We hope to see you there. This move could have a significant impact on how services and funded and delivered in the future. Make sure your voice is heard!

For more information, check out:
Colorado Long-Term Services and Supports Redesign Fact Sheet

Friday, March 9, 2012

Good News Friday!

Today I’d like to congratulate Stephanie Tilley, who works in Imagine!’s Out & About department. Stephanie recently had her first book published: 101 Adapted Games for Kids.

101 Adapted Games for Kids takes mostly well-known games for children and shows some basic adaptations to make the games more inclusive. The adaptations are applicable for any ability level, and the book is useful whether you serve kids with disabilities exclusively, hope to include kids with disabilities in your program, or serve the typical camper. Each game includes a general overview and description of how to play, as well as specific adaptation suggestions for participants with sensory, physical, visual, auditory, verbal, or cognitive challenges.

In this book, Stephanie has captured the beauty of childhood games and transformed the experience into a passage to lifelong inclusion. The book is a great read for the new practitioner and an awakening for the more experienced.

Learn more, or purchase the book, here.

Way to go, Stephanie! Thanks for being such a great ambassador for Imagine! and the people we serve.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Good News Friday!

Next Wednesday, March 7, 2012, is National Spread the Word to End the Word Awareness Day.

Some of you may be asking, “End what word?”

The answer is the R-word.

As the Spread the Word to End the Word website points out, “When they were originally introduced, the terms “mental retardation” or “mentally retarded” were medical terms with a specifically clinical connotation; however, the pejorative forms, “retard” and “retarded” have been used widely in today’s society to degrade and insult people with intellectual disabilities. Additionally, when “retard” and “retarded” are used as synonyms for “dumb” or “stupid” by people without disabilities, it only reinforces painful stereotypes of people with intellectual disabilities being less valued members of humanity.”

The R-word hurts because it is exclusive. It’s offensive. It’s derogatory. The R-word is hate speech.

Here at Imagine!, some of the good folks working in our Innovations department have organized an event to help publicize this cause. There will be a banner signing and information available about how you can further support this movement. Here’s the details:

When: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Time: 10am-2pm
Where: Imagine!'s John Taylor Conference Center, 1665 Coal Creek Drive, Lafayette CO, Erie Conference Room

If you can’t make Imagine!’s event next week (or even if you can), I strongly encourage you to visit the Spread the Word to End the Word website and take a pledge to eliminate the demeaning use of the R-word. It takes about 30 seconds to pledge.

Let’s do our part to end the word!