Our mission for intellectual disabilities residential and day services is to assist individuals with disabilities to become independent and productive members of the community.
This mission reflects the principles and core values on which we base our services; the positive approaches incorporated into those services; and the foundation of our policy, which is the belief that individuals with intellectual disabilities must have access to opportunities in the community and the training to increase independence in the community.
Principles and Core Values of Washington-Greene ARS, Inc.
Through our residential and adult training, which incorporate the principles and core values defined below, we can prepare individuals with disabilities for "everyday lives" that connect them to and include them in the world. We believe that people want and deserve the following elements in their lives so that they can participate in the world as fully as possible:
Choice. In all aspects of their life, including relationships, budgets, residence, supports and services, employment, and medical issues.
Quality. Quality of life as determined by them. Quality supports and services that enable them to have the lives they want. When people pay for high-quality supports, they expect high quality in return.
Stability. To feel secure that all changes in their lives are made only with their input and permission, that is, "nothing about me without me."
Safety. To be safe at home, work, school, in their neighborhoods, and in all other aspects of their lives. To receive services that ensure their health and safety without overprotecting or restricting them.
Individuality. To be known for their individuality and to be called by their names; respected by retaining the privacy of their mail, files, and histories; and able to choose to be alone at times.
Relationships. To have relationships with family; partners; neighbors; people in the community such as pharmacists, hairstylists, and grocers; support staff; and the friends of their choice.
Freedom. To have the life they want and to negotiate risk. To use "People First" language and to be free of labels. To have the same rights afforded to all citizens: the freedoms of choice, association, movement from place to place, and the complaint and appeal process.
Success. To be free from poverty and have a chance to be successful in the lives they choose. To live independently with enough support to be successful and have expanded opportunities for employment with supports provided as needed.
Contributing to the Community. To be full citizens of the community: voting, working for pay or volunteering, belonging to a religious community, owning or renting their own homes, and living among family and friends and not being segregated. To be recognized for their abilities and gifts and to have dignity and status.
Accountability. To have the state and county governments, together with support workers, provide the services and supports they need when they need them; and to be assured that they will not lose the needed supports they already have.
Mentoring. To be trained, along with their families, as mentors to help other people and families by providing information and working with them until they can do things on their own. For example, experienced supports coordinators mentoring new supports coordinators, senior staff mentoring new support staff, and individuals and families mentoring support staff.
Collaboration. To have the benefits of collaboration between the ODP and other offices within the Department of Public Welfare and other state and federal departments. Collaborative planning during times of transition and a seamless system that forms a bridge between education and the people, services, and systems involved with them.
Community Integration. In all aspects of their lives, to be able to use community resources like banks and food stores, just as others in the community do, without feeling left out because of their disabilities. Being in the community as well as having the opportunity to participate in all that the community has to offer, including generic resources that do not label them as "special."
The concept of positive approaches is a world view, a movement, in which all individuals are treated with dignity and respect and are entitled to having "everyday lives." Positive approaches are characterized by an integration of values, philosophies, and technologies. A major goal of positive approaches is to reduce and eventually eliminate all restraints in the IDD system.
Using positive approaches requires us to take the following actions as we serve individuals with intellectual disabilities:
1. Get to know each person, his or her unique qualities, as well as he or her personal history.
2. Ensure that all people involved are comfortable enough to speak freely; and that we listen carefully and respectfully, take each person seriously, and honor what we hear.
3. Examine all aspects of the person's life, including living environment, relationships, activities, and personal dreams.
4. Support people in their efforts to grow and develop, make their own decisions, achieve personal goals, develop relationships, and enjoy life as full members of the community.
5. Try to see clearly and honestly the good reasons behind and adaptive qualities of even the most troubling behavior no matter whose it is.
6. Rather than trying to fix a person, focus on building competencies, creating opportunities, and offering choices that help him or her live a fulfilling life.
7. Assume that all behavior has meaning and that a person's behavior can be a way of communicating needs and wants or is the manifestation of some clinical issues.
8. Use viable alternatives to and thus eliminate the need for aversive or coercive methods.
9. Measure success by the satisfaction of the person we are supporting.
When working with an individual, we are using positive approaches when we examine his or her environment to gather the following important information:
- The frequency and types of choices he or she is allowed to make.
- How he or she communicates (or does not communicate) with others to ensure that his or her wants and needs are known.
- What physical health issues might be causing pain or agitation.
- What mental health issues are present and how they are affecting behavior
- What resources, services, and supports are in place to help him or her deal with problems over a period of many months or years.
By learning about the individual's environment or physical health issues or life history, we can identify and make changes that could be key to resolving what may be seen as problematic behavior. For example, if an individual cannot communicate needs, verbally or otherwise, to support staff, we can find ways to help him or her communicate effectively and consistently (perhaps using language boards or other technology, or by learning what certain gestures or body language) and reduce or eliminate his or her frustration at not being able to express needs and wants.
Employment Policy for IDD
For ODP purposes, employment is defined as a job in the community that pays at least minimum wage, and one in which the worker has the opportunity to interact with individuals without disabilities and has access to available employee benefits. Individuals with intellectual disabilities who are of legal working age should have access to employment and the training necessary to sustain it, regardless of their living arrangements or type of service funding.
Our support also includes follow-along services on an ongoing basis--how often and for how long depends on what is indicated in ISPs and IPPs according to individuals' needs and current waiver and service codes and definitions. Job-related follow-along services include transportation coordination, liaison for and between the participant and employer, and any equipment needed to keep a job.
Washington-Greene ARS will work with supports coordinators, job coaches, transportation services endeavoring to obtain/sustain employment for the individuals served by the agency.