We recently spoke to Luke Koppisch, the Deputy Director from the Alliance Center for Independence (ACI) of New Jersey, about his experiences networking with other Centers for Independent Living (CILs) through one of our programs – Healthy Community Living (HCL) – and transitioning workshops and other services online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workshop facilitators from selected CILs met weekly for several years discussing resources, ideas, and successes facilitating the HCL workshops – Community Living Skills and Living Well in the Community. Luke shared that these weekly meetings were a key part of his center running successful groups.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused interruptions and barriers to service delivery for people with disabilities around the country. When Centers for Independent Living (CILs) offices closed, it affected their ability to offer their usual in-person services, including skills-based trainings and classes.
Staff from RTC:Rural learned first-hand how the pandemic was affecting CILs’ delivery of such classes. Healthy Community Living (HCL), a health promotion and independent living skills program developed by RTC:Rural staff and disability stakeholders, was designed for in-person delivery. With several partnering CILs actively conducting in-person HCL workshops with consumers when the pandemic hit, it triggered a need for discussions, collaboration, and problem solving to adapt the program’s delivery under vastly new conditions.
The Rural Community Living Development (RCLD) project is a knowledge translation grant funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). RTC:Rural staff have partnered with the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) to develop and implement a peer-mentoring training with and for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) that will prepare CIL staff to work on community development activities in rural areas. This training will help CIL staff to identify community needs and develop sustainable groups to solve community challenges. The project’s aim is to help CILs across the country connect with community partners to better serve people in rural communities.
In October 2020, RTC:Rural Project Director Rayna Sage presented on RCLD progress-to-date to attendees of the 2020 APRIL Conference as part of a talk on “Strategies for Rural Outreach and Networking,” where she explained how the project shifted due to the current pandemic.
“We planned on being in a community, actually in a number of communities, to use community development strategies like coalition building and partnering with diverse groups to address issues around community living for people with disabilities – but COVID – so we shifted gears,” Sage said. “So we shifted gears to bring together a team, a development team, from across the U.S. to build this Peer-to-Peer Mentoring curriculum.”
Interested in learning more about helping people with disabilities build advocacy skills? Join a discussion hosted by AllProv, Inc., on Saturday December 12 from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. MST. For more information and to sign up for the event, see: Improv and Advocacy Discussion.
RTC:Rural’s Advocacy Skill Building Toolkit will be shared as a resource during this discussion.
Where: Online (Zoom)
When: Saturday, December 12, 2020, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. MST
The bulletin shares information about federally-funded resources that can help people with disabilities and older adults, especially those living in rural areas, to remain in their homes and communities. The bulletin shares these resources with state Medicaid agencies, state and local housing agencies, state and local public health agencies, and other health and housing entities.
The Rural Community Living Development (RCLD) project is a knowledge translation grant funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR). RTC:Rural staff have partnered with the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) to develop and implement a peer to peer mentor training with and for Centers for Independent Living (CILs) that will prepare CIL staff to work on community development activities in rural areas. The project includes helping communities identify, access and use NIDILRR-funded products and resources that can address the most important community issues for increased independence and participation (such as access to accessible housing or transportation) of people with disabilities in their rural communities.
The Rural Community Living Development project team explains the project and gives a quick progress update.
We were excited to bring our peer-led self-management program Living Well in the Community to new audiences by facilitating partnerships between Centers for Independent Living and rural hospitals, and begun by teaming up with CILs and rural hospitals in Wyoming and Oregon for the first phase of the project.
And then COVID-19 struck, and like so many things across the country, we needed to adapt, as many hospitals and healthcare settings found themselves dealing with this virus and related difficulties. At the same time, it became dangerous for people to meet in person, especially when the disability community is most at-risk for exposure in this pandemic.
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.
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
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.
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.