Joey enjoys playing games with his friends, going to church and collecting old cars and trucks. Being in his own home has created an environment for Joey to take control of his life and make his own choices. Surprisingly, Joey has made choices that have supported his ability to be more involved in social activities that he ever has been before. He can do this because he is healthier than he ever has been. Being healthy and having an overall sense of feeling good has created social opportunities for Joey that he didn’t have in the past.
Who is Joey? Joey has many gifts including a love for old cars, the Dukes of Hazzard, animals and playing his Dad’s guitar, just to name a few. Joey is kind, enjoys joking around and hanging out with his friends. Joey moved into his own home for the first time, with some support from Opportunity Inc. When Joey first moved into his own home, he needed to learn life skills necessary to rent his own place. Joey is beginning to learn these things and is taking a tremendous amount of pride in his home. Opportunity Inc. began talking with Joey about what he wanted to do first. Joey identified he wants to learn how to meal plan and make food. He wants to get his mail and look at his bills. Joey wants to go to work and participate in social activities that are important to him, such as church. Joey wants to have place for his cars, his tools and all of his DVDs. Putting together Joey’s gifts and identified outcomes, Opportunity Inc. began to provide support to Joey.
Lily has been living in her own home for the past several months now. It continues to be fascinating to be a part of Lily’s life as she flourishes living independently. Lily has had to overcome several challenges to live independently. Many of these challenges are the same ones that Opportunity Inc. has identified for many of the people we are supporting. One, in particular, is developing independent living skills. In Lily’s case, she has never had to pay attention to what it takes to own her own apartment. Staff have supported Lily through skill development in the areas of home safety, safety in the community, what to do in emergencies, how to pay her bills, budgeting and how to get her mail. When Lily was living in an AFH setting, these are things that were done FOR her, just by nature of the living environment. While it has been a lot to learn, Lily is making progress in each of these areas with the support of staff doing these things WITH her. Lily is proud of her progress of overcoming these challenges and is proof that with determination and the right support, it’s possible.
Since starting Community Supportive Living, Opportunity Inc. has realized some challenges the members face. One of the most common things we see is either the potential for members to be lonely or that they have expressed that they are lonely. Because of this, we have adapted a portion of our assessment to include questions that facilitate a dialogue about members interests, activities, natural supports, friendships and family relationships. Having this information helps staff better be able to support members in building their support systems to prevent loneliness.
Opportunity Inc. has identified training staff as a challenge for a quality, effective Community Supportive Living program. Opportunity Inc. has worked with LinkEd to do some organizational training for all leadership in understanding the Community Supportive Living model and how it differs from the traditional service based model. In addition to one time trainings, LinkEd worked with Opportunity Inc. to create a sustainable Learning Community as a support to the front line staff working in CSL. The Learning Community has served as a tool to facilitate communication among the front line staff. Since the staff work throughout the community, 7 days per week, nearly 24 hours per day, they do not often have time to collaborate with each other. Through the Learning Community, staff are able to talk with each other in an easy and effective way. In addition, the Learning Community provides an avenue for communication to go to the Manager of the program in an efficient manner. The Learning Community streamlines communication to the Manager, allowing her to prioritize the communication. One of the most exciting pieces of the Learning Community is the training development. Opportunity Inc. is in the process of evaluating and creating effective training for the staff who work in the CSL program. We have been able to utilize the Learning Community as a platform for CSL training, which is beginning to show better results than the traditional classroom training. Opportunity Inc. is still in the initial phases of developing the training through the Learning Community and we’re very excited to see and update on how this progresses.