To all members of the LIFEDesigns Community:
LIFEDesigns is committed to continue to provide essential services to our clients while protecting their health and safety, as well as that of our staff. Over the past several days the number of cases of confirmed COVID-19 in Monroe and surrounding counties has increased rather dramatically, and new recommendations for both care and prevention have come down from the CDC and the Indiana State Department of Health almost daily. Because we have a team of professionals at all levels of LIFEDesigns we have either been ahead of these recommendations or have been prepared to quickly implement them.
The information listed below is accurate as of 5:00 PM Monday, April 6, 2020. Click here for more.
LIFEDesigns is actively following updates from the CDC, ISDH and DDRS for recommendations of best practices in providing services to both residential and family support clients. This includes social distancing, frequent hand washing, and extra cleaning/sanitation of surfaces.
- Active monitoring of staff in group homes and supported living settings with more than one resident for any signs of possible COVID-19 infection, including having high temperature taken and reported to Team Manager upon work.
- As always, clients are being monitored for any evidence of illness. Extra attention is being given to symptoms of respiratory illness, and a formal protocol for monitoring has been developed by our Director of Nursing and will be initiated with the onset of symptoms.
- We earlier determined we would not host any meetings at our office that involved individuals from outside LIFEDesigns. This is continuing.
- Other than staff providing direct support to clients and supervisors of those staff, LIFEDesigns staff will only participate in virtual meetings. That means meetings must be conducted by telephone, videoconference, or other online means in order to have participation by a LIFEDesigns staff member.
- To the extent possible, all staff are encouraged to limit time spent outside their own home and work sites to avoid unnecessary contact with individuals who may be carrying Covid-19.•Staff are asked to self-monitor for flu-like symptoms and a temperature of 100.4 or higher and advised to contact their supervisor or a LIFEDesigns nurse if either are noted.
We remain committed to providing the highest level of services and supports possible and appreciate your understanding if we are unable to maintain usual staffing levels during this public health emergency.
- Entrance to the office is restricted to LIFEDesigns employees with a need to be in the office.
- All non-essential and partially-essential office employees will receive state-mandated training and will begin to provide coverage for staff in our residential programs.
- Essential staff will work from home to the greatest extent possible.
- We will continue to have our telephone answered during normal office hours to answer questions and to forward calls to the appropriate individual’s voice mail. Office staff will continue to monitor email and voicemail, but responses may be delayed since the staff member may be working in the residential programs.
- At this time we are continuing to provide services within residences as we have prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Community activities and integration have always been a priority for LIFEDesigns. Although this is a difficult decision, our work with clients out in the community will be seriously decreased (and in some cases discontinued) in response to the Governor’s directives and with an eye toward limiting potential risks to our clients.
- We are not initiating any cutbacks in residential services at this time, but recognize we may need to if large numbers of clients or staff develop Covid-19. If this happens, all individuals impacted by this change will be notified.
- Employment Counselors can perform most of their duties remotely, and they will continue to provide services to currently enrolled clients.
- Intakes/assessments of new clients require a face-to-face interview. As a result, intakes/assessments will be postponed until the office reopens to routine business.
- Additionally, Employment Counselors will assist our residential staff as needed.
Community Integration Services (formerly LECO):
- This service will be suspended beginning March 16, 2020.
- CIS Staff will be assisting our residential staff as needed.
- Human Resources provides a wide variety of services to staff, and this department will continue to provide these services with some necessary modifications.
- Recruitment of new employees will continue, utilizing telephone and video-based interviews.
- Training of new and continuing employees contains much that is available online and can be completed at home. This training will continue.
- We are in the process of updating our technology to permit instructor-lead training to also be conducted over the internet.
- Training that must be conducted face-to-face (such as First Aid, CPR, and Safety Care) will be conducted as needed, but with less frequency than current.
There is not an end date established for these changes. No one can predict when the Covid-19 threat will end in our communities and we want to resume normal operations as soon as possible. We hope these protective measures can be ended quickly, and recognize that many organizations have been saying two weeks. But we also recognize that you rely on information provided by us, and make plans based upon our actions. Rather than give a possible end date now, only to extend it later, we must say that these measures will remain in effect until no longer needed. We will continue to provide you with updates as they are available.
Thank you for your understanding and support through these uncharted waters. And thank you to the entire LIFEDesigns Team for the continuing professionalism demonstrated by each and every staff member. You have and will continue to prioritize the safety and care of our clients, and that is much appreciated by all.
As a general practice, we are following guidance from the experts at the CDC and State Department of Health for both planning and implementation of protective practice:
- DO NOT visit if you have traveled outside of the United States or areas affected by COVID-19 for at least 14 days.
- DO NOT not visit if you are feeling ill or showing any symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, shortness of breath, or other respiratory complications).
A Joint Message from Russell Bonanno (Chief Executive Officer), Renee Clevenger, RN (Director of Nursing), Lisa VanDeventer (Director of Residential Services) and Brandi Hamilton (Director of Community Services):
No doubt you have been monitoring the news and other information sources to keep up with the latest on Covid-19, and its presence in Indiana. All of us at LIFEDesigns share your concern for the continued health and well-being of those for whom we provide services. We have been doing the same thing – monitoring information from the CDC, the Indiana State Department of Health, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in addition to the health of all our clients and our staff. It is important that we maintain a current knowledge and understanding of the facts about Covid-19 so we can respond appropriately to protect your family member who is also a member of the greater LIFEDesigns family. At the time of writing this memo, there have been six individuals in the state with a presumptive diagnosis of Covid-19. None of these individuals resides or, based on available reports, has traveled in any of the counties where we provide services. However, we cannot assume that there will never be a diagnosed case of Covid-19 in our area and must have a plan and prepare for his likelihood.
The safety and support of our clients, along with the safety of staff who provide that support to our clients, are our highest priority. This priority is the driving force behind all actions we have taken and will take in the future in this and other situations.
As a general practice, we are following guidance from the experts at the CDC and State Department of Health for both planning and implementation of protective practices. We have reviewed our policies and procedures related to communicable diseases and are providing refresher training to staff. The most important recommendations from the experts are to practice social distancing and frequent handwashing. Staff are working with clients to assist them in handwashing and are reviewing activities outside residences to avoid areas or activities with large crowds. Although there is no evidence at this time that the virus is transmitted from surfaces, we have begun additional cleaning and sanitizing of vehicles and common areas in residences. We also ask that you monitor your health, and weigh that when considering making visits to residents.
Staff are monitoring every client for any signs of illness, as well as monitoring each other for the same thing. Preparations also include preparing for the possibility of “self isolation” in the event a client receives a provisional diagnosis of this virus. This would require clients to remain in their home to the greatest extent possible and will impact community activities for that client (possibly along with his or her housemates) for some time.
To keep staff healthy so the agency can continue to operate at a level necessary to provide all needed services to our clients, visitors to the Winslow Office are being limited, and all staff have been instructed to utilize technology for meetings rather than have face-to-face meetings, especially for group meetings. This does include quarterly and annual meetings. We will work with you, other providers, and case managers to make virtual meetings easily accessible (teleconference or videoconference) and trust you will understand the need for this change to protect both staff and clients.
Some of you may wonder if we are over-reacting to the situation. However, communicable disease experts have provided evidence showing the best way to limit the spread of Covid-19 is to act quickly, before it appears necessary. Universities around the country, including Indiana University, are moving all classes to e-learning and suspending on-campus activities as well as limiting operations and restricting all travel. We would be remiss if we failed to learn from them. Within the limits of protecting the confidentiality of our clients, we will keep you informed of any change in the status of Covid-19 in our communities, with our staff, and with our clients. We appreciate your understanding during this challenge and welcome any questions or suggestions you may have. Due to the large number of calls being made and received to address scheduling and services, we ask that you use email for non-urgent issues rather than a phone call.