Friday, October 28, 2016

Good News Friday!

Imagine!’s Out & About department has been partnering with Firehouse Art Center once a month for their Creative Expressions group. The fabulous people at the gallery provide an "Art of Possibilities" class, a unique program that offers participants access to the transformative nature of art through gallery visits, informal docent-led conversations about the art work, and a hands-on art activity that responds to the art or uses the same medium as the exhibition.

The pictures below are from the Firehouse Art Center’s website, showing work from the Art of Possibilities class inspired by a recent Tom Rice exhibition.

We are extremely grateful for this community connection and look forward to continuing our partnership.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Here’s an quick story of someone who accepts services from Imagine! who is using social media to promote his original artwork.

Ron is an artist whose passion for nature scenes comes to life through his truly impressive talent. With the help of Imagine! CORE/Labor Source Communications Instructor Sarah Fenton, Ron started a Facebook page, Stroke of Nature, to get his art out there and into the public eye.

From the artist: "Here is a link to my website. I have been updating it weekly with two pieces. I am hoping to make a sale or more, and increase the number of people looking at my site."

Friday, October 21, 2016

Good News Friday!

A couple of good news items I’d like to share today.

First, I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to the good folks at BCinteriors. You may recall that they pledged to dedicate a portion of the proceeds from their Inventory Clearance Sale to Imagine!. Well, the results are in, and sale purchases resulted in a donation of $2,500 to Imagine!. Pictured above is the BCinteriors team presenting the check to Imagine! Foundation Executive Director Patti Micklin. We are so grateful for the support.

Secondly, I’d like to congratulate Dr. Jeff Kupfer, PhD, and one of his colleagues at Imagine! Behavioral Health Services. Jeff served as a co-guest editor for the latest edition of Brain Injury Professional Magazine. The edition edited by Jeff focused on Applied Behavioral Analysis, and included an article written by Jeff entitled “Comprehending Aggressive Behavior Following A Brain Injury: An Explanatory Framework For Neurobehavior.” Jeff also helped to recruit fellow IBHSer Leigh Schrimpf, MS, BCBA, to contribute articles to the print version of the magazine. It is great to see Imagine! represented this way, and yet another demonstration of how our impact beyond our local services. Congrats to all!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Future Folk

I’m looking for some Future Folk.
  Can't see the video? Click here.

No, not Future Folk such as the refugees and former space worm farmers from the planet Hondo featured in the video above.

Instead, I’m looking for some people willing to look into the future of services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD).

I was thinking about this recently when a longtime friend of Imagine! rejoined our Board of Directors after a several year hiatus. He commented to me how it seemed that nothing had changed since he last served on the board. He’s not the only one to say so. I stay in touch with my predecessor to this job, and he has told me the same thing on more than one occasion.

Here’s the thing: it shouldn’t be this way. We shouldn’t keep looking to solve the same problems in the same ways. We shouldn’t continue to drain our energy engaging in fights over the tiny scraps of resources available to us, instead of focusing on a genuine shift in how we do business in order to address the many challenges facing our field.

Some may argue that “people don’t like change.” I’m not sure that is always true. There are some things in our lives that we always demand are constantly updated and renewed: our computers, our cell phones, our video games.

Why can’t we demand the same for services for people with I/DD? Are we too afraid to make forward thinking decisions? Is it safer to stick with what we know, even though we know it needs fixing, than it is to take a risk that may allow us to do better? Is it possible that much of what we are talking about and battling over today will be irrelevant in a few short years?

We need to embrace our inner future folk and stop looking over our shoulders for solutions. We need to look forward and think forward. The stasis currently infecting our field does no one any good. And we’re in the business of doing good, so it is way past time to move along.

Then again, what do I know?

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fantastic Five - Celebrating Five Years Of Volunteers At Imagine!: The Rusk Family

Imagine!’s Volunteer Program officially began five years ago (of course, we had volunteers before, but it was a loosely organized effort). To celebrate five years of volunteerism at Imagine!, I am sharing on my blog short videos highlighting five volunteers who have truly made a difference at Imagine!.

Of course, choosing just five volunteers was very difficult – last year 379 volunteers donated 8,784 hours of their time to support Imagine!’s mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities! We are grateful to them all, and hope that the five we highlight serve as a great representation of the many generous folks who so kindly give back to their communities.

Today’s video features our fourth volunteer highlight: The Rusk family, who volunteer together each week at Imagine!’s Bob and Judy Charles SmartHome. Thank you Isabelle, Serena, Kristin, and Jason for all you do for Imagine!.
  Can’t see the video? Click here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Technology Tuesday

This week's Tech Tuesday takes us to Imagine!’s Santa Fe Group Home in Broomfield, where Donna has joined a group of individuals working on medication self-reliance by using a computer-based medication tracking system designed by Imagine! staff members. Here she is, filling her medication reminder box for the first time. Keep up the great work, Donna!

To learn more about the medication tracking system Donna is using, check out the short video below about Donna’s friend Lana.
  Can’t see the video? Click here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Good News Friday!

The week of October 9-15 is National Case Management Week. To celebrate, all this week Imagine!’s Facebook page has featured quotes from Imagine! Case Managers about what their job means to them.

For today’s blog post, I thought I’d consolidate all of those quotes to give my readers a sense of the incredible dedication demonstrated by our Case Managers. You can see those below.

I’d also like to use this space to offer a hearty “thank you” to Imagine!'s Case Managers. It is a difficult and challenging job, and yet day in and day out our Case Managers do everything they can to create a world of opportunities for all abilities. They have my unwavering gratitude.

Paul Jones 

Being a Case Manager means you learn to think the best about your client even when describing client needs. It means working long hours on a variety of matters that provide new challenges each week. It means working with a group of dedicated people who are passionate about helping others.

Hannah Bozzay 

 Being a Case Manager means that I get to work with amazing people every day. My clients inspire me, and my co-workers are the best out there.

Mary Simonson

Being able to assist someone with affordable housing.

Victoria Kennedy

Being a Case Manager is a very complicated role. After so many years in this career it is difficult to explain in a few words. For me the most important aspects that rise to the top today are; relationships, support, and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges and most importantly to never give up.

Mikii Schoech 

One definition of Case Management is that includes a variety of systems and processes to provide the needed supports to a client. While this is true, I have also always looked at my job as knowing the person first. This approach that has made my job rarely feel like work. I am working with the individual person or family to understand the resources available and to be advocate for them. I genuinely feel like I have worked with some of the best people and most dedicated families while working in Case Management and Imagine!.

Imagine!'s Case Management Team, October 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Technology Tuesday

Last Friday, ANCOR hosted its 2016 Technology Summit and Showcase and once again, Imagine! representatives were at the forefront.

The day began with a panel discussion entitled “What's Your 'Why' for Using Technology?” Panelists included Gerald Bernard, Executive Director, Charles Lea Center, Allen Ray, President/CEO, SimplyHome, and Imagine!’s own Director of Business Operations, Greg Wellems. The panelists discussed how enabling technology should be less about a person’s needs and more about their abilities, capabilities, and potential for success through natural supports, as well as how each of their companies are taking a uniquely different approach in creating outcomes by first redefining their corporate missions.

Later in the day, attendees had the opportunity to learn how to “Reduce Liability and Costs with an Electronic Medication Administration Record (eMAR),” presented by Geoff Cooper, President, CaraSolva, and Imagine! Charles Family SmartHome Site Supervisor Chris DiRosa. The pair discussed how providers are reducing liability, costs, and improving individual health outcomes via point of care systems including electronic Medication Administration Records (eMAR).

Imagine!’s representation at the ANCOR Tech Summit is another example of how we continue to lead the way in exploring the many ways technology can be used to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Thanks Greg and Chris for being our Imagine! Tech Evangelists!

Friday, October 7, 2016

Good News Friday!

October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.

To celebrate, today I’d like to highlight the accomplishments of a few of the individuals who accept supported employment services from Imagine!’s CORE/Labor Source department. 

Miah truly adores her career. She works as a fashionista at Rags Consignment in Boulder. Miah’s favorite job is dressing up the mannequins to display the many fashion possibilities for customers visiting the shop. Working in fashion has always been a dream of Miah's, and we are so happy that she loves her work as an independent young woman!

Andy enjoys his work. He welcomes guests and collects tickets at the AMC Orchard 12 Theaters in Westminster, and spruces up the movie theaters after each show. Andy has always loved movies, and we are so thrilled that he loves his work in the entertainment industry!

Meredith enjoys her fast-paced career. She works as the lone dishwasher in the kitchen each week during the lunch rush at Brookdale in North Boulder. Meredith’s coworkers love her positive attitude and smile, and we couldn’t be more proud of her!

Alexis loves her career. She has worked at the Longmont Athletic Club as a gym attendant for more than three years. Alexis appreciates it when club members let her know how thankful they are for her hard work in keeping the gym equipment clean and organized. Her can-do attitude makes her a success both at work and in her training to race half-marathons.

Jenny is thrilled to have what she calls a “good job.” As a people-person, she loves helping customers at Safeway and the independence that comes with contributing to her community.

Ryan, Roy, and Wendy are a high performing team. Together they work to assemble “Can Bling” for Oskar Blues. Way to go, team!

Tom has been working independently at Albertson's in Louisville for a month! He is a courtesy clerk and his favorite task is bagging for customers. We couldn't be more proud of Tom's amazing work!

Of course, we couldn’t find job placements for these talented individuals if we didn’t have a business community dedicated to supporting individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Please take some time to watch the short video below, which highlights many of our local CORE/Labor Source business partners. Please consider visiting and supporting the businesses mentioned above and in the video. They are doing so much to create a world of opportunity for all abilities.

Can’t see the video? Click here.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Data Mining

I’ve been looking at some data about our nation’s efforts toward serving individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and the outcomes from those efforts. I haven’t reached any major conclusions from my data mining (yet), but I have noticed some interesting trends and numbers worthy of a deeper look, and I thought I’d share those with you today.

A note: I recognize that I am working here from a very limited data pool. But, in my opinion, the two documents referenced below are the two best researched, most comprehensive sources of data in our field that I am aware of. I welcome other sources of data or other interpretations that would contradict my takeaways, but so far few are forthcoming. 

Let’s start with some statistics from right here in Colorado. According to the 2015 edition of the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities’ “The State of the States in Developmental Disabilities,” which tracks nationwide financial and programmatic trends in I/DD services, Colorado ranks 48th in the nation in terms of fiscal effort for I/DD funding. At the same time, according to the United Cerebral Palsy’s (UCP)The Case for Inclusion,” which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC) on service outcomes for Americans with I/DD, Colorado ranked 11th overall in service outcomes.

Remember, Colorado ranked 48th in fiscal effort and 11th in outcomes. 

Using the same studies, let’s take a look at some of the few states who are reporting conflict free case management (CFCM):

Minnesota ranked 7th in fiscal effort and 12th in outcomes;
Montana ranked 26th in fiscal effort and 48th in outcomes;
Nevada ranked 51st in fiscal effort and 37th in outcomes; and 
Wyoming ranked 20th in fiscal effort and 43rd in outcomes.

Picture Mr. Rogers saying, “Neighbors, can you say the word, 'confusion'?” 

Can one draw some conclusions from above?
  • Fiscal effort alone does not translate into better performance. 
  • A CFCM design does not translate into better performance. 
  • Colorado is unique in its local control design through the use of Community Centered Boards. Could this be the influencing factor in the remarkable results? 
  • Perhaps the collective wisdom of those making decisions about system design is subjective and often flawed. And perhaps a more consistent, analytical, and evidence-based approach to system design is in order. Moneyball, anyone? 
Other interesting Colorado trends I noted from the UCP scorecard:
  • The number of residents in state operated facilities is growing. This is contrary to all of the gains we’ve made in the past few decades around providing more opportunities for community-based living with the least restrictive environments possible. 
  • The trend above doesn’t make financial sense, either. When looking at spending on state operated facilities, it appears that a disproportionate percentage of dollars is spent on those versus dollars spent on people served in the community. 
  • There are a fewer number of families receiving support. 
  • The average cost per person living in the community is flat over half a decade. 
  • Colorado’s ranking, although impressive, is trending downward from 6th to 11th in the past few years. 
The data trend is disturbing, and raises some important questions:
  • Do these measurements and trends matter? 
  • Is anyone really paying attention to them? 
  • Is our goal better performance? If so, are we focusing on the right things? 
  • Should we focus solely on the issues that will improve the outcomes for people with I/DD? 
  • Can many (or even most) families manage their own resources? 
  • If/when families are given the resources, could the providers not set market rates that support living wages for a higher quality workforce? 
  • Could we utilize available technologies to improve security, self-reliance, and social networks? 
While I’m not going to answer the questions above today, I suspect many of my friends, regular blog readers, and those who are good at reading between the lines know what I think the answers are. I may be wrong in my answers, but I sure wish more people were asking the same questions and doing everything they can (especially including taking a hard look at the data) to find their own answers, which will hopefully result in meaningful, positive, and long-term changes in the outcomes of service delivery in Colorado and across the nation.

Then again, what do I know?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fantastic Five - Celebrating Five Years Of Volunteers At Imagine!: Zoe Polk

Imagine!’s Volunteer Program officially began five years ago (of course, we had volunteers before, but it was a loosely organized effort).

To celebrate five years of volunteerism at Imagine!, I am sharing on my blog short videos highlighting five volunteers who have truly made a difference at Imagine!. Of course, choosing just five volunteers was very difficult – last year 379 volunteers donated 8,784 hours of their time to support Imagine!’s mission of creating a world of opportunity for all abilities!

We are grateful to them all, and hope that the five we highlight serve as a great representation of the many generous folks who so kindly give back to their communities. Today’s video features our third volunteer highlight: Zoe Polk, who has volunteered for our CORE/Labor Source department as well as for our annual Imagine! Celebration. Thank you Zoe, for all you do for Imagine!.

Can’t see the video? Click here

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Technology Tuesday

This week’s Technology Tuesday provides an update on Imagine!’s Remote Supports Project.

Thanks to a generous donation, Imagine! has created a technology demonstration project to improve and support the safety needs for adults with disabilities. The project is currently supporting five individuals throughout Boulder County. The project has developed specific tool to assess individual support needs and identify the technologies that will best help meet those needs. The technology that has been purchased is individualized to the identified needs and includes door and window sensors, heat and stove detectors, medication reminders, visual doorbells, prompting systems for daily tasks, which are all integrated into a notification system that provides alerts to caregivers or 911.

This technology allows people to be monitored remotely and notifies loved ones or caregivers when people are home and what area of the apartment or living space they are accessing. All systems allow the individuals to remain independent while still promoting their safety by remotely locking doors, monitoring when someone comes to their doors and providing alerts when a door or window is opened at an unusual time.

In one case the system was able to alert us that one of the individuals was wandering in the middle of the night and it notified a nearby caregiver to help assist and address the support needs.

Example system, image provided by SimplyHome, which is behind many of the remote supports technology used in Imagine!’s Remote Supports Project

This project is helping to fill a huge gap that currently exists in services for adults with intellectual disabilities who are mostly independent but need some assistance to remain safe and self-reliant. As part of this project Imagine! will be sharing the results of this three year project with state and local leaders to encourage the adoption of technology into the service system.