Tag Archives: CILs. Center for Independent Living

Skilled Nursing Facilities in Rural Communities: Opportunities for partnering on COVID-19 response efforts

Guest blog post by Dr. Meg Ann Traci, RTC:Rural Knowledge Broker


The devastating and disproportionate rates of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and deaths in institutional settings continues to be part of the national crisis. With data from the 23 states that publicly report data on deaths within long term care facilities, such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates more than one in four COVID-19 related deaths in those states (27%) occurred in such settings. The threat within these medical and personal care settings put people with disabilities and others unable to maintain and manage independence in the community, at increased risk. In rural areas, the threat to such institutionalized populations is likely even greater.

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Reaching Consumers During COVID-19 with the Healthy Community Living Program

The Healthy Community Living (HCL) Program is a collection of workshops that support opportunities for all people to live well and participate in their communities.

HCL is usually delivered through in-person workshops. Since in-person delivery of services is not recommended or not permitted right now as we all live with the presence of COVID-19, we’re sharing some ways to make HCL available to consumers remotely.

Limited offer: Access HCL for free now through May 1

HCL CLS LWC Logos - link to website

To help provide another way for people to connect to peer support, and also for CIL staff to access professional development trainings they can do on their own time, HCL is offering a free one-year license, now through May 1.

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Research Snapshot: Building Networks to Expand Living Well Delivery

Living Well in the Community logo

Living Well in the Community (part of the Healthy Community Living program) is a ten-week workshop for people with disabilities who want to set goals to support their overall quality of life and wellbeing. Often, these workshops are hosted by local Centers for Independent Living (CILs).

However, not all people with disabilities who may benefit from Living Well are connected to their local CILs. To help expand the reach of the program, the Building Networks to Expand Living Well Delivery project partners with rural community hospitals and CILs. These partnerships will also help improve the capacity of rural hospitals to support rural independent community living. 

The Building Networks to Expand Living Well Delivery project team explains the project and its goals, and gives a quick progress update.


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Rural Institute Researchers awarded 5 year Rural Community Living Development Grant

The University of Montana Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities (RIIC) is pleased to announce a staff team has been awarded a five-year, $981,803 Disability and Rehabilitation Research Project grant by the National Institute on Disability Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research within the Administration for Community Living.

The newly funded project, Rural Community Living Development (RCLD), is led by Rural Sociologist and Project Director Dr. Rayna Sage, and Dr. Craig Ravesloot, Clinical Psychologist and Research Director for the Research and Training Center on Disability in Rural Communities (RTC:Rural).

A group of people in a community park enjoying a picnic. Two of the people are using powerchairs.

The purpose of the Rural Community Living Development project is to provide space and facilitate conversations among community members to help them connect to resources and information they might not otherwise have access to.

Using a combination of independent living philosophy, peer mentoring and community development approaches, research staff will work with Centers for Independent Living (CILs) to take collective action that leads to positive change for and with people with disabilities living in rural areas.

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RTC:Rural travels to Grand Rapids for 25th annual APRIL conference

25th Annual APRIL National Conference on Rural Independent Living. 1995-2019. The Power of Rural.

RTC:Rural heads to Grand Rapids, Michigan this week for the 25th annual Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) conference. The conference will be October 25 – 28, and the theme is “The Power of Rural.” 

Harnessing the theme of this year’s conference, Project Directors Dr. Rayna Sage and Lillie Greiman, Director of Knowledge Translation Tracy Boehm Barrett, and Research Advisor Dr. Craig Ravesloot will give a presentation titled, “Using Rural IL Power to Address the Needs of People with Disabilities Living in Poverty.” In their presentation, they will discuss how poverty affects Independent Living (IL), rural resources that Centers for Independent Living (CILs) can leverage to help address poverty, and how community development strategies can address poverty among people with disabilities living in their community. Dr. Sage will also briefly describe a number of new opportunities for CILs to get involved in RTC:Rural’s research and rural community development projects to address local issues that affect IL services.

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Improv in action: Alabama CIL uses RTC:Rural Advocacy Toolkit to teach youth

Disability rights & resources. The power of hope & freedom.

Disability Rights & Resources, a Center for Independent Living in Birmingham, Alabama, is using RTC:Rural’s Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit to introduce and teach advocacy skills to youth with disabilities by conducting workshops across Alabama. With assistance from a grant from the Alabama Council on Developmental Disabilities, Disability Rights & Resources was able to hire a Community Empowerment Specialist to organize the advocacy workshops.

“We learned about the toolkit from APRIL [the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living],” said Elizabeth Patton, Program Coordinator at Disability Rights & Resources. “Using improvisational skills seems like a fun and engaging way to build advocacy, especially in youth,” she said. “Looking over this toolkit, it was really nice to have everything we needed already summed up into one Facilitator Guide with accompanying Power Point presentations.”

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Healthy Community Living featured in KTDRR Casebook

Screenshot of the Cocreating with stakeholders through Participatory curriculum development KT Casebook

Click on the image to visit the casebook entry on KTDRR’s website.

Research done in isolation can often miss critical connections and applications, especially in the adoption phase, when much can be ‘lost in translation’ between the researchers and the end users. Knowledge translation (KT), or the process of facilitating that transfer of information, helps make sure that the research being done and the resulting solutions and products are easily understood, relevant, and useful.

One way to make sure that a project is relevant is to follow the integrated knowledge translation approach, which is to include stakeholders throughout the entire project, from planning to sharing the final results. A specific method within this approach is participatory curriculum development (PCD). The Healthy Community Living project is a successful example of PCD in action. Continue reading

RTC:Rural’s Health My Way app in pilot phase

Screenshot of Health My Way app. A person's hand is shown tapping the screen.

The Health My Way app was designed to be used on a tablet. The app guides users through health promotion content.

For people with disabilities in rural communities, it can be hard to access health care. Lack of services, distance, or lack of transportation can be substantial barriers to receiving adequate health care and preventative health care. Self-management health practices could help reduce the need for acute-care medical services for those in rural areas.

To help address this, researchers at RTC:Rural have worked to develop a health promotion app called Health My Way. The app, which is meant to be used on a tablet, guides users through health promotion content derived from the Healthy Community Living program. The Health My Way app allows users to explore up to 22 content areas including topics such as Disability Identity, Goal Setting, Healthy Relationships, and Eating Well. Users are also matched with a health coach who meets with them either in person or via telephone to review the content of the program, as well as provide accountability and support. Continue reading

Healthy Community Living Project Shares Stakeholder Engagement Practices for Online Conference

Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability & Rehabilitation Research at American Institutes for ResearchThe Center on Knowledge Translation for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (KTDRR) hosted its annual online conference on November 5, 7, and 9, 2018, titled “Engaging Ways to Engage Stakeholders.”  Spanning across the three days, the conference addressed strategies for how to plan, carry out, and measure the effectiveness of different knowledge translation (KT) approaches.

On day two of the conference, RTC:Rural’s Director of Knowledge Translation Tracy Boehm Barrett and RTC:Rural Project Director Tannis Hargrove presented on their work with the Healthy Community Living (HCL) project. Their presentation was titled “Co-creating With Stakeholders: A Case of Engaging Through Concept and Design for Program Development.” The presentation will be archived and made available on KTDRR’s website in early 2019. Continue reading

Facilitators share rural barriers to participation in Living & Working Well programs in Peer-to-Peer Series call

A circle of clip art people surrounds the Living and Working Well with a Disability logo, Peer-to-Peer Series written underneath.Residents in rural areas can face many challenges and barriers to accessing services and programs, such as those offered by Centers for Independent Living (CILs). For many Centers that are located in or that serve rural communities, these barriers can mean low participation, which in turn can make it difficult to continue offering certain programs beyond core services. On the most recent Living and Working Well Facilitator Peer-to-Peer call, program facilitators discussed barriers to participation in their workshops such as fewer (or no) transportation options, competition for time, insufficient infrastructure, lack of supporting resources, and fewer outreach and recruitment opportunities. Continue reading