How does a small staff of nine help guide over 80 individuals with developmental disabilities through a year of the pandemic? They do so through dedication, patience, bravery and ingenuity.
Ascentria Care Alliance's Forsberg Independent Living Program is a unique model that enables and empowers people with developmental disabilities to live independently in the Worcester community. This program assists participants with their finances, helps them improve their skills for the activities of daily living and encourages self-reliance. Case workers visit program participants, monitor their progress and serve as a constant resource and support in all life situations.
"One of the most important ways our staff make a difference is promoting our clients' engagement with their community. In a blink of an eye once the pandemic hit, they had to tell their clients the opposite - stay home. Their isolation is very real," said Kristin Foley, program manager.
With closings of day programs, loss of jobs and limited family visits, our staff became many clients sole point of social interaction and emotional support. Staff had to face their own fears about contracting the virus so that they could help their clients navigate a new way of living their lives during this crisis.
Foley observed: "It weighs heavily on our staff that, due to social distancing requirements, they cannot spend as much quality time with clients which is so important for building and maintaining trusting, close relationships. They look forward to the time when they can get back to serving the person as a whole."
"It is inspiring to witness our case workers' ability to bring a calming influence to clients dealing with instant change to their daily routine when they are accustomed to change in small increments. They are a welcome constant in their clients' lives which have been disrupted by the pandemic," shared Stephanie McCarthy, Ascentria vice president.
"My caseworker, Teta, is assisting me to find new housing during this time. She continues to help throughout the pandemic no matter how hard it becomes She is relentless, I'm happy to have Ascentria on my side" says Menes Boddie.
We celebrate all staff at the Forsberg program for being a beacon of light for our clients every day, but especially during these challenging times.
This article originally appeared in the May issue of "The Provider," a publication issued by the Providers' Council. The Providers' Council is a statewide association of primarily nonprofit, community-based organizations that provide human services, health, education and vocational supports to one-in-ten residents of the Commonwealth.