July 24, 2020
We have an update about visitation that we hope you will be pleased with. Yesterday, July 23th, DDD issued a communication, now allowing for indoor visits at DD Residential Programs (effective 7/26), as long as there have been no residents or staff of the home who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 28 consecutive days, or are currently displaying symptoms. Please keep in mind that if a new positive case is identified, visitation within the residence shall be suspended until 28 days have passed.
I have attached the guidelines sent out by DDD, 7/23/20 Covid-19 Residential Visitation Guidance , for you to review. Our Leadership Team has utilized these guidelines to create an updated Visitors of Clients in DD Residential Programs 7.26.20 , which will go into effect this Sunday, July 26th. Please pre-schedule your visit to the home with the Program Manager.
Visits will be arranged in an area of the home in which there is adequate physical space to accommodate other residents and allow the required social distancing to occur. If this is not possible, an outdoor visit shall be scheduled instead.
Each visitor must sign an acknowledgement of the attached guidelines and submit to the Program Manager prior to their first scheduled, and each subsequent, visit to the residential program. Prior to any visitation occurring, the individual or Guardian is required to sign the Guardian Consent for Visitation During the COVID-19 Pandemic and submit it to the Program Manager.
If you have any questions, please reach out to the Program Manager or Director of Services.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend.
Nancy Good, MSW, LSW
June 22, 2020
I hope this finds you all doing well and feeling hopeful as New Jersey continues to make steady progress with its re-opening plans. With so much going on in our local communities, the state, and the country, as a whole, it can be hard to focus on the positive growth that we are making. At Alternatives, as you know, we have taken a very conservative approach to our reopening, and we are optimistic that this is the best course of action to maintain the well-being of our clients, your loved ones.
On June 18,2020 The Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) released, and issued to providers, the Residential Visitation Guidance and updated Residential Screening Policy. In response to these updates, Alternatives has updated its own COVID-19 protocol, which is effective as of Monday, June 22, 2020. You can find that protocol here, Visitors of Clients in DD Residential Programs. Any questions related to visits can be directed to the Program Manager of each specific program.
If you're not already familiar, the New Jersey Council on Developmental Disabilities (NJCDD) provides a platform for individuals, family members, advocates, and public and private agencies to develop a coordinated social policy for advancing the rights and opportunities of New Jersey residents with developmental disabilities." https://njcdd.org/
NJCDD is currently in the process of developing its Five-Year State Plan that reflects a comprehensive review of major service systems and issues as they affect children, teens, and adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families in New Jersey.
They are currently gathering input from the community to formulate those goals. They would like to hear from individuals with I/DD, families, caregivers, service providers and other stakeholders about what is working for people with developmental disabilities, what needs to change, and, ideas for how these changes can be made. If you would like to participate, please find the link to their site HERE.
We continue to work towards our annual fundraising activities, including the upcoming 3rd Annual Dignity Dash, a 5K event, taking place on Sunday, September 13. If you, your loved one, or someone else you know, is interested in learning more, or participating in the Dignity Dash, which will offer a virtual component this year, visit the Dignity Dash event page. If you have questions, you can contact Anita Feiner, Director of Development, directly at email@example.com.
I wanted to be sure I wished all of the fathers, and those who fulfill the role of father, a belated Happy Father's Day! I hope it was a nice day for you. With the upcoming 4th of July weekend ahead of us, we hope everyone will find a way to enjoy some time outside, and with your loved ones, through socially distant visits, until the time that direct contact is no longer something to be concerned about.
Until then, we are all grateful for your support and understanding, and wish you a wonderful couple of weeks ahead.
Nancy Good, MSW, LSW
June 9, 2020
At today’s New Jersey Daily COVID-19 Briefing, Governor Murphy announced that the Stay-at-Home order that was imposed on March 21st would be lifted effective immediately. In addition, the Governor lifted the limit for indoor gatherings to 25% of a building’s capacity OR 50 people total, whichever number is lower, as well as increasing the limit on outdoor gatherings from 25 people to 100. Effective June 15th, New Jersey will enter Stage 2 of the State’s Restart & Recovery.
We have formed a Task Force that is working on a phased-in plan of transition for Alternatives’ Reopening. Our first and foremost priority is to preserve the health, safety and well-being of our employees and the individuals we serve, as well as that of visitors to our programs and office. There is much to be considered and measures that will need to be taken and protocols to be put into place to assure that the reopening will be implemented in well thought out, safe and orderly fashion. As we move forward in the planning process, we will be sharing the details of the transition. In the meantime, please know that we do not anticipate any significant changes in how we are currently doing business through the end of June. We ask that everyone continues to exercise proper personal hygiene, with regular handwashing with soap and water, that we maintain social distancing in all communal spaces, and that we all continue to wear face coverings at all times with the exception of when employees are working in a private office with the door closed. I know that these changes have taken some adjusting to, but they are not optional and we anticipate will continue for the longer term.
We appreciate your patience and understanding during this period of transition.
Nancy Good, MSW, LSW
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.