I hope all of you have enjoyed some great April Fool’s Day jokes and laughter amid the tough times we are having with the Coronavirus pandemic. Laughter may still be the best medicine! :)
This week’s column is about being tough and staying in the fight during tough times. Please read it carefully and keep plowing forward with the fierce determination, grit and heart that I know you have.
People with disabilities, including many of our staff, all of our board of directors and (some) (many) who work through SKIL as direct support workers, are tough folks. In fact, we’re some of the toughest people around! Historically, people with disabilities have (allegedly) been ignored, marginalized, overlooked, manipulated, heavily discriminated against and even killed…all (allegedly) because they had a disability. Even in my lifetime, we have had to live our lives in a world that sometimes just doesn’t understand us or want us around.
And we have survived.
Now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our entire world has changed, and in an unbelievably short time. We have begun to fight a different kind of enemy, a new virus that is attacking people throughout the globe. We’re struggling to deal with all of the changes coming at us in proverbial tidal waves, wondering if we will continue to survive.
I have good news. We have, and we will!
How will we do it? The same way we have always done it, with the absolute determination and never-say-die motivation we’ve had to accomplish other victories, including long, hard-fought battles like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA is a wonderful example of ‘winning a fight’ to all people with disabilities. Look it up on your computer or phone and be inspired!
We don’t know yet what the end of the Coronavirus battle looks like. We don’t know how long it may last. But what we DO know is that, so far, we are winning—everyone who reads this column is alive and surviving. Please always remember to keep your common sense in this fight, taking necessary actions and precautions to stay safe and well. And especially--please always know that we love every single one of you. We will continue to serve you as best we can. Please contact us via phone, e-mail or fax if we can be of help.
I love you all, Shari.
SKIL Resource Center will be closed Friday, April 10th, in observance of Good Friday.
We encourage everyone to stay safe with good hygiene and social distancing. We are
all in this together and your compassion, service and efforts are very much appreciated in what you do
every day while we’re providing services and continue with business operations.
I hope all of you are staying safe and well amid the corona virus pandemic. For at least the next few weeks I will be visiting with you through this column, which will be posted every Friday on SKIL’s website. I am working from home, like some of our employees, and hope to return to SKIL soon.
I want to encourage all of you that we will get through this. We are strong, tough and resilient people who have survived other life hardships. We will survive this, too. Stay calm, think positive and channel your energy into doing helpful, productive things while self-isolating and taking care of yourselves.
Do you have a cluttered closet you have planned to clean out? Clean it out now, you have time. Do you have a book or magazine that you’ve been meaning to read but have put off? Read it now, you have time.
Does your house or apartment need a Spring cleaning, but you’ve been waiting to tackle it? Spring has arrived in all of its beauty, so tackle it now, you have time.
Sort through those clothes and other items you want to donate, sell or pitch, cook a favorite meal for yourself, pamper yourself a little and use this time at home wisely. Every day that we are given is a gift. I hope you will savor it, regardless. Find a reason to smile and laugh.
Provided by GrassRoots Advocates for Independent Living (GRAIL) - This is to help you protect yourself and your direct support workers/personal care attendants/family while making sure your needs are met in your home.
- Look NOW at what, if any, Durable Medical Equipment might help you do some things by yourself. If an over the toilet commode is the difference between being able to transfer and toilet or not, we can line that up NOW. Same with things like a trapeze over the bed, etc...
- Start talking NOW with workers, roommates, family and friends about exposure risk. Talk about how people can limit exposure. The first best option is to NOT get the illness. Limit outside activity now. Use delivery or pickup services for groceries. Limit the personal items brought into homes from other locations and homes. Start using extensive cleaning and handwashing practices at all locations. Make sure anyone who handles the bags or products washes their hands immediately after handling them.
- Have an idea of what other resources may exist to “fill in” some of your worker’s tasks. Look for local resources like a restaurant delivering meals or a pharmacy delivering medications or refills. This could mean the worker is in the home less time. That way there is less exposure between the consumer and the worker. The worker is also out and about in the community less.
- If using food delivery from a restaurant, empty the food into your own dish to eat. Throw out the containers from the restaurants. Have anyone who has handled the containers wash their hands immediately. Some places offer “no contact deliveries.” You can place a table outside the door for these. Even if the restaurant doesn’t offer “no contact” options, you can place a table and a note outside asking for that service.
- If you are using any type of reusable bags or containers outside of your home, be certain to clean and sanitize them regularly.
- We have asked the State to allow consumers to put agency- directed services on plans of care to use for backup attendants. Self-directing consumers can call their MCOs and ask if that can be done NOW.
- Limit foot traffic in and out of the home in general, and sanitize the environment. Have attendants disinfect common surfaces, appliances, DME every other day at this point. Anyone coming in the house must wash their hands before touching anything. Make an agreement to remind each other when we see the other touching their face, then wash hands. Ask attendants to limit contact with other people outside of the consumer’s home.
- Request respite or emergency respite care for in-home services to use as a backup as part of plans of care. Self-directing consumers can call their MCOs and ask if that can be done NOW.
- Have direct support workers designated as “Essential personnel." This will make it so they can come into restricted areas to get to the consumer, if needed. Anyone who you need to be able to get to you should be designated “essential”, whether they are a paid worker or not. Prepare a note for anyone you will need to get to you with your information on it so if there is a question about why the worker is coming into a restricted area, they have some proof with them. A sample letter people might use is included.
- See if there is a way people can set up a worker "pool" so that if a DSW needs to step out, others are ready to step in, and vice versa. Divide up tasks now. If there are three folks who have three DSWs and one can do the "direct care" stuff, have that person be the one who can do it for all three of the consumers. Have the other workers do shopping, prescription pick up, meal preparation, etc.
- Have backup workers who don't have outside considerations ready to go. Have applications on file and processed so people can step in to work. Rules limiting family members, guardians, etc... are being waived so anyone goes at this point. Workers are being allowed to start working before background checks are completed, as long as they say they don’t have a criminal history.
- It may be best to have fewer workers coming in and out of the home. Get permission from the MCO to adjust budgets to allow for overtime pay. Fewer workers may be able to work more hours.
- DSWs may need to support their individual employer if they see them needing an advocate. This is an overwhelming time for those of us with compromised health systems. We know we are at a much higher risk of dying if we get this virus. If a worker feels a consumer may need help that they may not be getting, the DSW could support the consumer in calling the local Center for Independent Living or CDDO/CSP to get help advocating for what the consumer needs.
- If direct support workers are having trouble getting to the consumer because they need child care, consumers could work with other consumers or neighbors to trade child care services so the worker can help those consumers.
- Have your personal information and contacts written down and in multiple locations. Have any essential devices (prescription drugs, wheelchair battery chargers, cell phone chargers, C-PAP) gathered together in case you need to leave your home quickly. Even if you are going to the hospital, plan to take these things with you, in case they don’t have them. Take to the hospital things like: specific ostomy care supplies, and equipment such as transfer boards. Hospitals may have these items, but they can take a long time for them to find them when you need them.
- IF YOU NEED TO LEAVE YOUR HOME to go to the hospital or some other location, let your contact and support people know you are leaving. If you know, tell them where you are going. If you don’t have anyone else to call or let know, call Ami at 785.220.6460. I will keep a list of people we will follow up with to make sure people don’t get moved around, stuck in institutions and lost in the system.
- If an employing consumer gets the virus, do not treat them like a monster. The person will probably be scared enough. Most DSWs are caring and loving, this is an important time to show it, for all of us!
Effective 3/20/2020 until further notice or the date below:
- DSW applicants can begin providing authorized services to waiver consumer without waiting for the results of background checks.
- The applicants shall immediately disclose any/all arrests and outcomes of criminal or civil charges to the employer (consumer).
- They will be considered a provisional DSW until all background checks are completed.
- However, we must have the New Hire packet before they begin.
- In the event a DSW applicant has a prohibited offense and/or an adverse finding, provisional employment to provide HCBS services shall terminate immediately.
- The exception granted through this guidance is good through May 1, 2020, at which time the guidance will be revisited for a potential extension, as necessary.
- Any questions please call Skil at 620-421-5502
Thank You, SKIL Fiscal Agent Department