April 27, 2020
As we enter the 6th week of quarantine, I wanted to again thank you for your ongoing support and words of encouragement as we travel this unchartered path together. While we do not know what the immediate or long-term future holds, we want you to know that we are doing everything we can to be a few steps ahead of the needs of our clients, the programs, and the agency, at all times. We maintain daily communication internally, and we remain in tune with information provided by the local government and the New Jersey Department of Human Services. Our leadership team has been participating in regular meetings, forums and webinars to stay abreast of the ever-changing information. We also continue, on a regular basis, to seek out and obtain new PPE to provide the programs with the essential supplies to keep everyone safe.
We are happy to report that our efforts at staying on top of things are paying off, as the health and well-being of our clients is stable. We attribute this to the ongoing efforts of our Leadership Team, who is providing the needed PPE and guidance to staff, the Managers, who are supervising the day-to-day program operations, the DSPs, who are following the challenging protocols each shift, while still providing the necessary care to each and every client, and our clients, for their patience and resolve during this very challenging time.
While there are many down sides to this pandemic, we have all seen some of the wonderful ways that slowing down and connecting with one another on a different level has had some benefits. Our programs are working together to share creative ideas that our clients can do while at home, and many of the individuals are really enjoying the extra quality time. They are engaging in a variety of art projects, indoors and right outside, at the home, as well as engaging in group exercise, enjoying music, and creating projects, including some to thank their Essential Workers, as well as others. A few of our programs have even started a pen pal program to keep each other connected and look forward to getting the mail each day, with support from staff.
We continue to provide opportunities for advocacy on our agency website in the COVID19 Updates section. However, we wanted to include a link in this week’s letter to remind you of the efforts of the Coalition for a DSP Living Wage. As taken from their website, “The Coalition is comprised of families, community provider agencies, Direct Support Professionals and, most importantly, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). These members share a common belief that individuals with I/DD deserve to live rich and meaningful lives as fully integrated members of our communities. Toward that end, Direct Support Professionals (DSPs), who play a critical role in meeting this objective, must be paid a living wage.” During this current health crisis, now, more than ever, our voices need to be heard.
Please take a moment to visit their site, and consider taking action in one of the 6 suggested ways. They are currently asking for personal stories and testimony to the important role Direct Support Professionals play in your loved one’s life. We encourage you to take a look and take action where you are comfortable doing so at NJDSP Coalition-Take Action
Thank you again for taking the time to read our weekly update. We remain hopeful for good news and great days ahead. Until then, please be well and stay safe.
Nancy Good, MSW, LSW
To Our Alternatives Family,
In the midst of the current public health crisis that we are facing related to the coronavirus and COVID-19, we at Alternatives are closely monitoring new developments and information coming out from the CDC, NJ Department of Health and other governmental and non-governmental entities. Staying informed allows us to plan for and take measures to mitigate the negative impact on our clients and employees. Our primary focus is on the safety and well-being of the individuals we serve as well as our staff members, knowing that by looking out for their best interests, we are also looking out for the best interests of our community as a whole.
While we have established regular communication avenues with the individuals we serve and their families and guardians, as well as with our employees, currently, we are sending out these communications on a more frequent basis, providing not only updated agency specific information, but also information on how we can keep ourselves well and help to prevent the spread of illness.
The health and safety of the individuals we serve and our employees is at the heart of every decision we make. Our COOP Committee has been conducting regular meetings to update policies and procedures around emergency preparedness and adding COVID-19 specific information. We have made operational changes at Alternatives to minimize the risk of exposure. We are using technology to adjust work practices and are making efforts to replace face-to-face interaction where possible. This includes providing options to conference in for meetings, and conducting trainings in an on-line format.
These are just some of the measures we are taking to date to help assure the safe continuity of operations at Alternatives. As we move further along through this period of uncertainty, we will continue to take additional measures and make adjustments to our daily practices to respond to the information we receive.
While these are challenging and unprecedented times and the environment around us is uncertain, we can take comfort in the fact that we have a great team of dedicated staff and proactive and involved leadership at Alternatives. I am confident that together we will get through this current crisis and we will navigate these rough waters, and as we have shown in the past, it will demonstrate the strength, perseverance and viability of the agency.
Thanks for being part of the Alternatives’ family. Stay informed and healthy.
Nancy Good, MSW, LSW
President, Alternatives, Inc.