Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness Month Logo

Do you really know about Autism?

We have a list of wonderful resources to help you learn about Autism and spread the word to bring awareness about individuals on the spectrum. If you have a resource that you use, but is not listed here, please post a link on our Facebook page!

Autism Speaks is a nonprofit organization that provides resources on their site for free to download (here and here), including the 100 Day Kit for families who have a child recently diagnosed with autism. For still more information and resources please see their Video Glossary and FAQs and special sections on Diagnosis, Symptoms, Learn the Signs, Treatment, Your Child’s Rights, Asperger Syndrome and PDD-NOS.

The American Academy of Pediatrics joins with other child health organizations in recognizing April as Autism Awareness Month. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 1 in 88 children has been identified with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Pediatricians screen children for ASD, and support families whose children have this diagnosis. Here are some new resources provided by the AAP for pediatricians and families.

During April, parents, caregivers and health care providers can visit www.aap.org/autism for free samples from the toolkit and to preview chapters from the parent book. Additional information for pediatricians can be found on AAP.org, and for parents at Healthychildren.org.

The Autism Society has been celebrating National Autism Awareness Month since the 1970s. The United States recognizes April as a special opportunity for everyone to educate the public about autism and issues within the autism community.  The Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon is the most recognized symbol of the autism community in the world. Autism prevalence is now one in every 88 children in America. Show your support for people with autism by wearing the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon – as a pin on your shirt, a magnet on your car, a badge on your blog, or even your Facebook profile picture – and educate folks on the potential of people with autism! To learn more about the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon visit http://www.autism-society.org/about-us/puzzle-ribbon.html. To purchase the Autism Awareness Puzzle Ribbon for your shirt, car, locker or refrigerator, click here.

An Update Letter from the CEO & Board of Directors

March 15, 2013

To customers, families, staff, donors, community members and friends of LIFEDesigns:

As many of you who are part of our community know, a tragic incident occurred with a customer of LIFEDesigns, Tammy West, who passed away January 26, 2013. The Board and staff of LIFEDesigns are extremely saddened by Tammy West’s death, and our deepest sympathies are with her family. We are writing to update you on what has taken place since we learned of Tammy’s death and to assure you that our first priority is to provide outstanding care to all our customers and families. We are taking all of the necessary steps to prevent any such events from occurring in the future.    

We immediately launched a total and complete review of all of our operations and used our findings to strengthen our care system.  LIFEDesigns has made all necessary reports to the state, checked all of our services and customers, and will continue to look for opportunities to improve in all aspects of our services.  The following are specific examples of changes we have made:

 Documentation:

  • Document updates and oversight: All documentation is up to date and has been verified.  We have visited every setting we support across our systems to make sure that documentation is in place and is current and that individual support and high risk plans are being implemented as written.
  • Electronic customer records: We currently use an electronic customer record, but will be moving as quickly as we can to a new web-based system.  This will enable us to give all staff greater access to the most current information about a customer. 
  • Increased access to electronic records: We are establishing new computer kiosks in customer settings that can be updated electronically from anywhere, again to ensure ready access to updated information.

 Supervisory oversight:

  • Nurse visits: We have arranged for nursing services to visit individuals in Host Families, like the one Tammy was in, and other Supported Living services with risk plans that indicate a health issue that should be monitored and who do not have home health services.  Those visits will occur monthly on an ongoing basis.
  • Quality Assurance: Our quality assurance program now includes cross monitoring (people from different service areas observing and completing checklists on requirements) and random record checks.  These checks are done monthly and cover medical, financial, programmatic and health and safety issues.  Problems found will be dealt with through training and discipline, where necessary.
  • Structural changes: In some supported living settings, we are instituting an additional onsite supervisor to oversee in-house documentation, finances, medical appointments, environmental review, and team meetings.  The position will provide direct service and have an allocation of administrative time for the above tasks.  We evaluated and redistributed supervisor caseloads to be sure they were equalized and provided for maximum direct customer contact.
  • Compliance review: The Bureau of Quality Improvement Services, a part of Family and Social Services Administration, has reviewed all of our Host Family Settings. We have developed an action plan with them which they have approved.  They should be back to monitor our compliance with the plan in the next 30 days.
  • Other external investigation: We have scheduled an audit of all programs and services in April by trained CARF surveyors.  The Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) is an international accrediting body that certifies compliance with their standards.  Indiana requires CARF certification for employment, community habilitation and community living services. Our surveyors, Julia Dotson of Bloomington and Debra Capuano of Xenia, Ohio will also be evaluating supported living, group living, employment, host families, and respite services.  This will enable us to have another set of eyes evaluate all our services not just the ones the state requires us to survey. 

Training:

  • Supervisor and DSP training: We have improved our supervisor training to ensure a more thorough review of all state and federal regulations and required documentation.  All current supervisors have completed this training and there will then be a required annual renewal for all supervisory staff.  All supervisory staff have received increased training by our nursing staff on recognizing potential signs of medical issues.  Currently we have a two week training for direct service staff and have augmented that with information provided by the nurses.

LIFEDesigns is committed to our customers and quality of their services and over the past 30 years has done much good for our communities and customers.   We currently serve 400 individuals and families in south-central Indiana; were one of the first providers of supported living in the state and now support 200 people in that program; secured $6 million in grants to provide affordable, accessible housing; achieved three-year CARF accreditation in every year surveyed since the initial survey in 2000; provide thousands of hours of respite services to families with the support of our communities; and helped 175 people with disabilities get jobs in local businesses.  We hope that in the wake of this tragedy the positive impact our organization has on the lives of many individuals with disabilities in our communities over the years is not forgotten. 

We are always looking for ways to improve, so we want your feedback.  You can contact Susan Rinne, CEO (srinne@lifedesignsinc.org or 812-322-5197) at any time should you have any concerns, questions or suggestions on what we can do to improve.  In the near future we will be implementing a suggestion line for staff, customers and families and we will announce the number in future communication.  Additionally, we would ask customers give us their feedback by completing our annual survey and can do so by clicking the link on our website www.lifedesignsinc.org

Thank you for your continued support during this difficult time. Please be assured that LIFEDesigns takes this incident with the utmost seriousness. We will continue to be vigilant in reviewing our care for all of our customers and promoting independence and inclusion. We will do what needs to be done to protect the individuals we support and to provide them with the best services. 

Sincerely,

LIFEDesigns’ Board of Directors & CEO

March is Disability Awareness Month

DIsability Awareness

Each March, Disability Awareness Month is celebrated throughout Indiana. And given that adults and children with disabilities represent slightly more than 19 percent of Indiana’s population, disability awareness is important for all of us. Led by the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities, the goal of Disability Awareness Month is to increase awareness and promote independence, integration and inclusion of all people with disabilities. The Council develops a unique theme for this annual event and produces campaign materials that are available free of charge to Hoosiers who want to help make a difference.

The 2013 campaign theme is “Community Connections.” The poster artwork features a fully connected, livable community with appropriate housing, supportive and accessible community services, and physical and environmental features that allow everyone to live independently. The text, “Access, engagement and relationships.,” reminds us of the vital links that make a connected, livable community. If our communities are to grow and prosper, we must develop “Community Connections” through access, civic engagement and by encouraging neighbors to support one another. This year’s Disability Awareness Month campaign materials are sponsored by Duke Energy.

This is the 23rd year for Disability Awareness Month. Won’t you join thousands of advocates and people with disabilities across the state by conducting community-based activities? Activities include events such as mayoral proclamations; art contests; and awareness campaigns in schools, businesses and government agencies.

Thanks in advance for your efforts to help raise awareness and understanding of disability issues in your home, business, school or neighborhood!

Events during the month of March to celebrate!

Also, follow us on Twitter, “Like!” us on Facebook and read our new blog to learn more about disabilities and what is going on this month to bring awareness to our communities!

A Letter from the CEO

January 30, 2013

To customers, families, staff, donors, community members and friends of LIFEDesigns:

As many of you know this has been a very difficult few days for LIFEDesigns and our staff. A tragic incident occurred with a customer of LIFEDesigns who passed away this past Saturday. The caregiver for this customer is being charged criminally in respect to the care provided. We are writing to assure you of our commitment to providing the best care possible, to fully investigating the current situation and to remedying anything and everything that needs correction. LIFEDesigns is committed to providing the highest quality of care.

In respect to the current case, there is information that we would like to share with you at this time. As time goes on, we will keep everyone updated on the efforts and results of our investigation and steps that we are taking to ensure the best care possible for our customers.

First, it is important to know that the customer involved in this case was receiving care in a Host Family situation. This is a relatively unusual care model for LIFEDesigns and at the time of this incident we had only four customers in this type of setting out of the 376 we currently serve.

Secondly, the individual providing care in this host family situation was providing that care as an independent contractor under contract with LIFEDesigns. The individual was not an employee of LIFEDesigns. Additionally, the case manager that had been at the location three or four days prior to the customer’s death was not an employee of LIFEDesigns, but rather an Independent Case Manager, an employee of another agency who is under contract with the state of Indiana to oversee services for individuals served on Medicaid Waiver on a quarterly basis. The visit made last week by the other agency representative was one of those quarterly visits and no problems were reported to LIFEDesigns.

Currently, LIFEDesigns has hired an outside law firm, Bunger & Robertson, to do a thorough and complete investigation of the situation and processes within LIFEDesigns to determine where improvements can be made and to determine what happened in this situation.  LIFEDesigns is also being extra vigilant in making additional visits and inspections of all customer situations currently in place. In addition, we have increased our ongoing protocol for visits to Host Family settings to far exceed the state standards.  This added scrutiny is being undertaken immediately and will continue until LIFEDesigns has had an opportunity to review all customer settings and meet and review these settings with staff, families and customers.

 Finally, LIFEDesigns had already planned to undergo a mock CARF certification survey with a certified surveyor. CARF is a national accrediting body that reviews organizations like ours and looks at policy, practice, and customer relationships.  This review will take on additional significance because of the most recent incident.  During the survey, LIFEDesigns is going to engage another certified CARF surveyor from out of our area to undertake a complete review of LIFEDesigns from top to bottom to make sure that all policies, procedures and actual practices are sufficient and meet and hopefully exceed standards for organizations such as LIFEDesigns. We are asking that this review be thorough, complete and brutally honest so that we can make sure that no stone remains unturned. We will cooperate fully with this surveyor and take all necessary steps to adopt any recommendations. LIFEDesigns will also undergo a significant and weeklong survey from the CARF national organization for their official survey in September of this year.

Thank you for your continued support during this difficult time. Please be assured that LIFEDesigns takes this incident with the utmost seriousness and will deal with the current situation appropriately and importantly to make sure that moving forward LIFEDesigns provides the very best care.

 Sincerely,

 

Susan Rinne
Chief Executive Officer

Chocolate Success

Chocolate13

This year’s 2013 Week of Chocolate

brought over 1,200 people to the chocolate-themed events

and raised over $35,000 for the nonprofits involved

making it a great success!

The Week of Chocolate (WOC) is a week-long community-wide festival that took place this year from January 26th through February 2nd. It has been in existence for over 10 years!  Every day of the week a different nonprofit organization hosted a chocolate themed fundraising event to raise money in support of their mission.  All funds raised at each event go directly to the agency putting on the event (i.e., Amethyst House’s Wonka’s Chocolate Carnival event raised money exclusively for Amethyst House). Again this year, LIFEDesigns (formerly Options) organized the set-up for the festival and acted as the hosting agency for the WOC overall. However, the WOC was and also is a great collaboration between all of the agencies involved and would not be so successful year after year without everyone involved. This year’s nonprofit agencies included the Monroe County History Center, Pinnacle School, the Bloomington Moose Lodge, Martha’s House, Citizen’s Advocacy of South Central Indiana (CASCI), Rhino’s Youth Center, Amethyst House and LIFEDesigns.

Most of the organization’s hold the same event for their organization each year which become signature fundraisers for them. For example, Rhino’s Chocolate Prom is a highly anticipated event each year and is a tradition for the agency, bringing hundreds of youth to the Rhino’s Youth Center to dance the night away! This event, as always, was very successful this year. New this year, Pinnacle School’s Chocolate Challenge was added to our list of events, bringing a little friendly competition to the Week of Chocolate. Also new this was the Week of Chocolate Art Sale giving local artist a chance to sell their artwork. We hope these events become great traditions like the other events: the Art of Chocolate, Chocolate Prom, Sundaes on Saturday, Chocolate Bingo, the Murder Mystery and Wonka’s Chocolate Carnival.

The Week of Chocolate is a great way to raise awareness for the causes each organization supports while also enjoying something almost everyone loves: chocolate!  Thank you to everyone who came out and enjoyed the most exciting fundraising week in Bloomington at the chilly end of January! ….and thanks for helping us spread the word about the work these great organizations do in our community.

THANK YOU FOR GIVING!

Go to www.facebook.com/weekofchocolate to check out all our pictures from the events!

Energy $avings from LIFEDesigns & Energizing Indiana

Energizing Indiana Logo

Do you want a FREE energy upgrade for your home: energy efficient light bulbs, properly sealed windows and doors, insulation on your water heater, and more?

You can receive these things for FREE by having a Home Energy Assessment done on your home by your energy provider. This will not only help you save money and be more energy efficient in your home, but for every person who signs up through LIFEDesigns and completes a Home Energy Assessment, Energizing Indiana will give LIFEDesigns $25.00 if you complete your energy assessment! Once you sign up they will call and schedule an appointment with you to assess your home at no cost to you, including making needed improvements!

TESTIMONIAL

It was easy! I signed up with just my address, phone number and energy provider and I got a call a few weeks later. A Duke employee came to my
house in the evening after I got home from work and checked my furnace
filter, installed low flow devices on my sinks, toilets and shower, and also
changed all my light bulbs to more energy efficient ones. He also improved
the insulation around
my window and door frames. All for FREE!

-LIFEDesigns Employee who signed up for this FREE energy assessment

Your electric service must be provided through Vectren, Duke Energy, IMPA, NIPSCO, Indianapolis Power and Light or Indiana Michigan Power. Click on the links below to find out all the details, if you qualify and to sign up. Please return these forms to LIFEDesigns by fax at 812-332-1186, or to the office in person or by mail at 200 E. Winslow Road, Bloomington, IN 47401. Or call us at 800-875-9615 and we will sign you up over the phone. It takes less than 5 minutes! Thanks for helping LIFEDesigns while saving yourself some money and helping our environment, too!

Energizing Indiana Sign-Up Sheet

Energizing Indiana – More Information

Energizing Indiana – What do I get?