In June, we issued this press release. It still holds true today, which is why we’re choosing to share it once again.
Community Options Integrated Services, Inc. founder Ingrid Rushing on the importance of certifying private Adult Foster Families for special needs in the era of COVID-19, and the challenges, misconceptions, and realities of the residential care system care during a global pandemic.
The agency, celebrating its 25th year of service, recruits, trains and certifies private family homes to mentor and provide services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but Rushing’s common sense approach applies to all types of home caregiving.
LOS ANGELES, CA – Community Options Integrated Services, Inc. (COIS) celebrates 25 years of providing services and support to adults with development disabilities in the greater Los Angeles and Valley communities in 2020. Rather than reflecting on a milestone, founder Ingrid Rushing finds herself more determined than ever to serve her community and find customized solutions for adults in need of safe, nurturing, and dependable home care.
“Our work is just beginning here in Los Angeles,” Rushing says from her office in Downtown Burbank, CA. “We did not anticipate celebrating a significant anniversary in the middle of a pandemic, and certainly no one had expected to spend the majority of 2020 in quarantine. I’m less concerned with milestones and more focused on how we can do better for people with special needs who rely on us.”
Rushing’s determination is never more apparent than in her actions, and since March she’s transformed COIS’s social media feeds into a constant resource of COVID-19 prevention tips and guidelines. She has spent the better part of her quarantine retrofitting her recruitment and certification process for potential adult family home provider candidates to meet the demands placed on us all by limitations of lockdown.
“COVID-19 does not stop the need for safe and secure homes to open up to folks in need, but it certainly has created some new challenges and barriers-to-entry we’re working hard to overcome. Our process has become entirely virtual. We’ve shifted to a model of Zoom-based virtual screening and mentorship, and we’re still actively seeking nurturing living environments for people with disabilities,” says Rushing. She notes that while opening your home to provide support for a person with special needs is not for everyone, it can be quite rewarding. With proper safeguards and diligence in place, it’s still an amazing alternative to congregate care. Smaller quality living arrangements as opposed to congregate living can be a safe and personalized option for so many. The benefits are priceless.”
Between the agency’s philosophy and the ability to provide customized support and supervision, quality indicators assuring health and safety are identified and implemented on a consistent basis by professional and competent caregivers who have demonstrated their diligence and follow-through. In a small, intimate home setting with just one or two people being served, illness and symptom recognition is more easily identifiable. This way, people can receive the attention that they deserve. These qualities are what COIS seeks in potential providers from the starting gate. Unique to other agencies, COIS also has built into its service design access to outside contracted professional clinical services to oversee our health implementations, especially for those who have been considered a high risk to exposure. Another set of competent eyes and ears is a best practice.
Rushing adheres to common sense principles as it pertains to minimizing COVID-19 risk and encourages others to do the same, regardless of whether or not you are a caregiver yourself. “It’s best to reject speculation and fear and listen only to the advice of certified medical professionals. Even if your city or state has relaxed local restrictions, err on the side of safety for all by adhering to at the very least CDC guidelines.”
If you are the primary caregiver for an individual in your home, it’s important that you know what you can do to protect yourself and others, and what additional steps you can take to protect your loved ones. Per the CDC:
- Know when you need to seek medical attention for your loved one.
- Call a healthcare provider if your loved one exhibits symptoms.
- Be aware that older adults with COVID-19 may not always have symptoms
- Use the CDC’s Self-Checker guide to help make decisions about your loved one and know when to seek appropriate medical care.
When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately.
- Trouble breathing
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
In this case, do as much as you can, or as much as you are allowed to, to help the person living with disabilities to follow CDC guidance.
- If you get sick, follow CDC guidance and have a backup caregiver for your loved one.
- Incorporate CDC guidance into your daily routine and the daily routine of your loved one:
- Wear masks or face coverings and make sure that others wear them.
- Do NOT place a cloth face covering on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, is incapacitated, or is unable to remove the mask without assistance.
- Wash hands often.
- Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
Never underestimate people for their abilities to go with the flow or adapt to our “new normal” and learn new ways, sometimes with modification and specialized instruction. The people we support are observant. Through modeling and positioning ourselves “walking in other’s shoes,” we can assist people with special needs to integrate and navigate safely through the treacherous waters of COVID-19 and beyond.
ABOUT COMMUNITY OPTIONS INTEGRATED SERVICES, INC.:
As an Adult Family Home Agency (AFHA), Community Options Integrated Solutions (COIS) recruits, trains, and certifies family homes to mentor and provide services to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We have expertise and resources to create nurturing living arrangements where a person with a disability can become a fully participating family member in a private home. We work collaboratively with our certified families and our clients to put into action a person-centered plan that follows individual choice. We take pride in our value of listening and acting on how people want to live, work, play, recreate, socialize, and worship. As California’s first Family Home Agency, we’ve been serving the community for 25 years. We’re proud of what we do and our ongoing commitment to our vision, mission, and values. 25 years in business. California’s first.