Sunday, August 28th


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Good morning and welcome to another edition of living veteran San Diego public service presentation of the at a town San Diego radio stations and Gary Lee. Independent options incorporated provides various services to people with developmental disabilities. We're gonna talk about those services today including their adult family home agency. Joining us this morning as adult family home agency director Lisa Stephenson. An independent options director of development Marc Anthony Keith welcome Lisa welcome mark. Good morning how are you Gary I am doing good good morning Gary thanks for having us and it's my pleasure to have you on the show. Let's let's go back and information on independent options incorporated that is that the parent now organization. For adult family home agency right that's correct. I'm independent option sort of back in 1984. Our founder Dennis peanuts and started the program he was working with individuals who have developmental disabilities in large institutional style settings. He saw the benefits to people living in the community in the open the sixth at home up in corona and as the very first time we have today we serve over 300 individuals. And four different counties. And homes community care facilities and really care facilities. And our new normality adult film him agency. And it is a set a national organization or just here and in California it's a local organization come we have a corporate office in corona as I said and we have operations here in San Diego in Escondido. As well as Oceanside. And the failing model serves individuals were out account that's OK and and now an adult family home agency. I AF HA. How does that in in San Diego. We opened and police would know better than I am now we did our first placement in September 2009. Some are about to celebrate anniversaries there. Oh great. And and you do cover the entire county then yes and the errant call points. Now one of our larger regions when you look at San Diego County at such a large geographic region is also the people we serve. And San Diego County has. 28000. People with developmental disabilities months there's quite a concentration of people live here as wells geographic region. And what's what's the age group that. Four for adult family home agency and an independent options in in general we serve. Children to individuals well into their senior years. On the company doesn't in the an optional stuck in this program the adult film how regency. We serve adults and that starts at age eighteen and goes all the way. I think our oldest. Person living in a home right now is in this mid sixties. So pretty pretty good range there quite diverse yeah very popular with younger people. So we get a lot of referrals for younger folks and and and the referrals and again we're getting talk a little bit more about adult family home agency but as long as you mentioned it. Referrals of from the San Diego regional center right correct hot. Do you get referrals from from other people as well now everything have to go through the regional center there where vendor from San Diego regional center and so all of the clients that recent or there our first clients of the regional and Maria thanks he had a do great work. San Diego regional center and what would that the disabilities that. The people that's there there are serviced by it would put their disability income people are eligible for services that may be diagnosed with autism. Several polls the Down syndrome. Epilepsy. Bastia and this is an older term but I think it's still what they use for the regulations are significantly handicapping condition. And the regional centers responsible for assessing individuals need in determining if they would be eligible for services. Okay now now how long you've been with mark how long have you been with independent options. I'll be going on my fifteenth year fifty yeah. And the always been in this in this field I didn't feel for over 25 years. Work for a few other agencies and work for regional center to a one time so I've had a long career well doesn't feel that long. Another very rewarding career miles a minute but has been working with those with a developmental disabilities correct and and there are so many different agencies. And organizations here in San Diego County that do similar work what was it about independent options. That treated them what was it that made it click for you. I was very fortunate to work with them and it and some partnering activities if you I was with the regional center an independent ops was starting some new programs. Site witness firsthand. They're pure mission. To focus on the individual's needs and do everything they could to help that person on the path towards independence and success. So I've always been so impressive this agency's commitment to the individuals. And the passion of the people that we work with. Says help those individuals achieve Michael's and it won by new Lisa how long you've been with them with them. I've been with independent options for twelve years. I have been in this field almost my entire adult life started volunteering at sixteen and I love it and I love working with independent options. And for me I think it was. This is the story shared. Twelve years ago no text messages or anything that we had email obviously and I my very first email opening a program giving the first email from Dennis Mattson Ira owner. Says Lisa. I'm always available TU by phone or by email. But if you can't reach me the correct answer is always. Do what's right by the client. And I'll tell you twelve years later that is true very true of him and very true of organizations. And know what. What is the down the mission then and independent options cash that's a good question it's. As Dennis would say it's written in our walls but it's not a formal statement it's just how we act every day and that is that. Everybody we serve we do everything we can help them on their path towards independence and success in the community again with with all the different agencies and organizations. I'm doing similar work is there anything that you can pinpoint about independent options then that makes you guys uniquely different one of the things we have great pride. Is that we've been successful helping people who had. Very limited experience in community living people who may have grown up in an institution. Very. Confined kind of living arrangements and we've helped them come out into the community and blocks. Hundreds of lives actually have been touched by our agency. And are now enjoying a very integrated and successful life in the community because of independent options and an again. In so many great agencies in the all doing great work. And you would all be able to do what you do with the wasn't needed her so I commend. All of you that independent options for what you do and and thank you for what you do. You have several programs. Independent. Options yes adult family home agency is one of the programs we'll get to that just a little bit let's talk a little bit about some of the other programs into independent options you have tea. An adult day program yells about that. But these aren't our programs are an individual ago Monday through Friday learn life skills vocational skills. There's employment component to some of or volunteer work on the going out into the community as well. There's partnerships with Community Colleges that correctly so our adult that we don't right now that we have and the paths are. But we have OT and PT succumbing current turn not anymore we do as needed we have. We do have. Those resources available as well as behavior specialist and tires speech pathologist so we have a poll of professionals that also support individuals to help them. With their goals each individual that we. I'm support and serve. Comes to us with late goals whether it be learning personal care kinds of things employment skills. Life skills. Computer skills it coping skills behavioral kinds of things. So depending on the individual's interest and needs we set up the goals and we have a team of professionals that healthy individuals achieve those goals. And this this is all part of your day program correct ended today it is their place at of people that you serve. That they go yes we have a a location in Escondido worth 368636. Individuals attend Monday through Friday. They come to that location and it's got a classroom setting a few well. Where they receive training and then they also have transportation do community training as well I'll educational skills that they go out during the day and you have more than just here's San Diego County right. And these these state programs yes LA in Riverside County to correct we have one in Riverside and what one also and Cindy miceli count. And and again. There's only one site. Yes here's Diego county yes and that's an Escondido correct crap off and and as there's just one and the other counties to yes they also have a building where they centralize and provide training in the off from there to do activities to. And everybody that comes in that works with them for all professionals. Yes we have a team of individuals. That are screened and trained to provide services and care. We also some other professionals. Behavioral consultant different individuals and nurse to come and also provide training and oversight. And running around to the community would what is it that they're doing out there. In San Diego County it could be volunteer work we volunteer at a couple different. Places. Throughout the county mostly North County. They do training piece on the classes are rats of if they're taking a cooking class they go to the grocery store and do the shopping. If there. Taking a reading and language class they go to the library and check out books. There in the computer skills class they may be going to fry is to get whatever we need to keep those computers up and running and that kind of thing so it's all related to their course their course of work and study in the program. And everybody that sent to. To move from. San Diego regional senate gets to take part in in these big programs. If they want to be part of that program and I have to be no they don't have to be there's many different kinds of programs with different types of focus in the counties so we have. People who qualified to be part of our program. Need the supports that our program provide and so we get the referral may come and check a Saladin if they wanna be part of the program we bring him and we are limited at 36 were capped at 36. Now another program you have residential program. With independent options tells about them one with a couple models where basically. A typical home in the neighborhood. Three or four bedroom home. Would be licensed to serve four to six individuals to live and live at that home and and we have staff there as well but provides living skills training and basic care. For up to six individuals and home we have about forty to those in Southern California. And how many people live in them four to six people. Do do the out those that are living in homes today have a say in who they room with yes. As you can imagine six independent individuals down and and making sure that everybody is happy and co existing in a healthy way. Is a challenge we respect individual's choices and we honor as best we can and so that they have choices to who they live with in the bedrooms. And when they refer to you this or any other process involving intake process involved. To go into one of these homes actor question it's a very careful process. Because you have the commitment for the people that are there are now announce assay we have a home were four people have. And one individual moves out for whatever reason hopefully a good reason they moved into their own apartments and how successful and and living a more independent life but when we have an opportunity for another person to move in. We're very careful we do some profiling if you overeat. Look at the dynamics of the three people living there now they're interest there needs and then as people refer to us from the regional center. We'd look at their profile see what their interest in the tar and do our best to make it compatible match once week on paper. Think we have a strong match and we take it to. Maybe a dinner and individual common share dinner with a man that lived there already. I'm if that goes well maybe it's a weakened stack so it's a very careful process that. Is not just our agency independent options but it. The individual. His family. And people in his circle supporter involved. As wells the social workers now we have a team of professionals of behaviors that that's needed. Nurses if there's medical issues so they're all part of this team that's looking at making sure we have a healthy group. People living yeah. Who has nothing is done. Just overnight. Now has a lot involved in variants which is good because like you say when you put a bunch people together that don't know each other yes you wanna make sure that it all works out. Do you ever have those instances where you have you know doesn't work. Of course and as you can imagine it you just took six people and said we're gonna live together tomorrow. There's going to be some time there are some challenges if you well right so there are times or people aren't I'm getting along we do our best to talk about coping skills and growing through them. Were open to if there's another home with a vacancy we can have. The chance for them to meet the other people mean to the other home. So there's some options for us to help them with write an owner of the part of your arm you residential program then is your adult family home agency. Any end he said that's coming up on 110 years now. 2009. And so that's that's yeah seven years seven years ten years OK and Phil tells little bit about the agency. So. What we'd do is we recruit individuals and families in the community. Who are interested in opening their home interest as an opening their heart. Two. And the tilt with the developmental disability. And just like our other programs we carefully about them we look at. Their life. Their availability. Of their experiences. Their reason for wanting to do it we do careful background Chad can we provide lots of training and initial support an ongoing support. We are in need of families for sure. And really what we're looking for people who have a heart to do it we provide all the support we really just need the home and the heart. And if they are interested they can open their home to up to two individuals. That's the maximum number because we want to avoid clashing with the group home setting so. This certification happens if they have to available bedrooms they can take two people. And then with our clients all of the referrals come from the regional center we need every single referral we get. We taught to them we find out what they're looking for a family what are their interests what are their needs for support. And then we go through this very careful matching process. And we get the families together with with the individual all and we usually start with coffee at a Starbucks someplace and kinda go from there and then maybe we'll say hey invite him over for dinner and then it's really. A thoughtful process. Is the individual interested in living in that home do they want to be someplace where there's a daughter Kim's or not. And the family you know do they feel that they have the time to commit and the family is every dynamic you can imagine whether it's a single person married older or younger kids no kids. Really doesn't matter it really doesn't matter just a part it's the heart at heart all iron the will to do it yet. And the desire to you know it has got to be a challenging. Challenging thing you know for any family. Or individual to to do this Indians it is you really need to be in the right season of life we need lots of great people who are interested. But it's really going to be the right season you have to have the time and energy. The space from the physical space for it and so you know will always need good homes. We talked to family is about making a long term commitment we never use the word permanent that we do want them to think long term. You know for obvious reasons. Our clients maze say they want to stay someplace long term or they may say gosh I wanna learn how to do some cooking and some house keep being. And I wanna go into my own place and so we will support them in moving out it can be a very fluid model people commandment. And then also depart. What kind of training east you mentioned extensive training and what kind of training would've what do Stanley go through. We covered god ash a dozen different topics on everything from you know what is a developmental disability to win the regulations. In opening a family home. We provide CPR and first aid train mean. We provide aid training from the crisis prevention institute the talks about dealing with. Crisis or potential crisis situations. We do med service medications certification. And then record keeping you know that are just a requirement of her program so we spend at least four solid days. Just initial days going through that and making sure that people feel comfortable get to know us get to know our family coordinators. And then we spend time in their home. We'll spend a couple hours doing what we call home study. Asking them about their lifestyle what did daylight to do you. What is there Saturday like how are available RD what do they imagine. That this program is about and what are they looking for. And finding out kind of what they're wanting to do you in the ass and very similar questions of declines so that we can mats and we had this one great. Story we at a really young couple. And big guys that we moved into the house loves to surf and they were avid surfers and that was their Saturday was surfing and there is actual list thing and it's. You know we've got somebody who lives. On a ranch in has horses we have other people that live closer to the city and they're on a bus line and that's great for the person who lives there. We have some clients that have children and so that's a home other dynamics now. There is perfect. Client for every family and there's a perfect family for every individual. And that's really what we found over these years and it's got to be so rewarding for them for the family. It's super exciting it is life changing and the it is. Once we once somebody really wants to be a family home provider that they. Even if the person they're providing supports to moves on. Be typically wanna stay in the program and have somebody else move into the home you have a lot of individuals that that stay wanna do permanent thing. We do we have a lot of how we do we have a lot of individuals who want to stay with the family long term. It's really a great model it's so unique and it provides. Not just a home but it provides this whole social world. That sometimes it's hard for people you know in in other settings. And sometimes there's so many people that it's difficult to. Get to do individualized things. And for people who live on their own sometimes you know they might be fine in their own place but gosh it's hard for them to make friends with their neighbors or. You know get a party going but. When you live in a family home. And there's a barbecue that weekend you know your billing because you come and so it's just it's just. Play has got to be it's got to be great for the individual tab a place that that they can call home now. You know I mean there's the the residential. Program as well you know it's your home and put. This is a family yes and that that makes huge difference I think I mean you can call your your roommates family to be it's so different a different feel into a little bit if yeah. Yeah now you mentioned ongoing support services. What other some of those and other support services that you offer. We provide ongoing training and group support for the family home provider we provide aid some pencil have social activities where we pull everybody together. Although we get bigger that's a little more challenging now do you. We are in the house at least monthly sometimes every two weeks depending on the supports that are needed for the individual. And at that time we just heard there just talks he will we can do to help make sure everything's going fine. And then even though we're doing that ongoing monitoring and case management it is still the San Diego regional center that. Is done monitoring agency for it's as well as the clients a bit. Then the client is retaining their service coordinator and and the supports there. And and you do offer a stipend and chief. We do we do and it's. It's pretty significant night you know we don't ever you know I'd talk about numbers usually except in the orientations that. It is and we we always have to tell people you need to EU's top tier tax consultant but it really is considered a tax free stipend. And I also tell people. If you love what you're doing it's. A lot of money and if your thinking of going into it for the wrong reason it is never enough money so. But I think our families feel quite supportive with and it's helpful it covers the costs and and beyond really for the support they're providing how do you weed out those who beat them then they're doing that test for the money. There's got to be some around yeah I try to pull yeah yeah well okay I'm ahead I'm sure this scary when I ran the first add you know so many years ago. And I really worried it oh my gosh who's gonna respond and it's gonna be people who are just in it for the money. But I will say that is very very few and far between. It's easy to get them out because the process is not fast it's not you're not gonna show up. At our office next week and have somebody move in the week after and graphic it is the it is thoughtful. Kinda time consuming process. But mostly it's a thoughtful process of people generally weed themselves out if there it's it's just too much work if you're not in it for the right reason. And this thing that has been the neatest for me is I've met some of the most wonderful wonderful individuals and families that I would never meet otherwise I would never have any reason to ever cross paths with them. Because it's so. Diverse our families are very very drivers which is wonderful because the people meeting placement are also quite diverse and. Can I add to that we are very careful in their sunscreen that we put in place where every. Interest of party that wants to be a filming a provider has to be fingerprint and increasingly clear. And that's not just for the believed Stanley it's any adult living at home. And we just do drug screening physical abilities testing physical abilities testing and also. TB test. You can. And we pay for all of that we pay for everything there's no cost to the families or individuals and and even for all of their family members we covered that. As Lisa said the process is very purposeful for filming get certified. And we made it that way so we've build a relationship with them so that by the time we're ready for certification. We know we have a family with a pure motive. That is being driven by helping somebody and not find the money went down kind of reaction or have you gotten from from these families over the years well. I think the families would tell you that the reason they do it. Is because they love who's moved into their home they bond so quickly I mean they're. They're wanting to bring somebody and they care about who they bring in they're very protective. Of how do they bring and and they they are just these great advocates for them in their day programs are in their schooling. Then the family home providers. Really have developed a relationship amongst themselves. Sharing information about. Posh I was able to again you know cellphone firm for the person who is living with me in or email because this person just signed up for Special Olympics do you want to join us or. Just really finding out all of the need resources that are in the air and and most I think what's most special is finding out that. They can use all of their resources there's not they don't have to be. In separate programs because they have a developmental disability they are living in the community living in typical life doing typical things. For whatever their age group news and it's. Become very meaningful for them probably. The best way to judge their experience is that our number one source of new families is. Referrals by existing families. People are doing and they're telling people they know. People that are friends people that are strangers on the street and they're just enjoying it so much they're getting so much promise that they want to share with other people and that's great because good people bringing good people. You know word of mouth is is the best form of that for absolutely. Absolutely. And if somebody wants to become. Family provider how would they go about doing that. Give us a call. Would be the best. We can send out information. Via email or mail all I usually talk to people on the phone just to answer some initial questions. We do a one hour orientation. Twice a month ones in the evening in Escondido. And the other is a daytime orientation in mission valley. So we trying get information out and there's no pressure no obligation. We just share that information and walk the person through the entire certification process. Give them an application and we tell them. If you're interested now we really need to if you're interested a year from now we really need to you and the program is just growing and it's becoming more and more popular so. Will mean good family is forever so do you have. Individuals and that are waiting for for homes for families yes we have we have more people needing homes than we do have homes available. So what is your phone number of them if they come. 76083. And I aimed. 7904. Hours 760. 2189185. And your website independent options. With an ass on the end dot org and are you on social media. Not yet but we are going to be working on and yes our eyes yes somebody working on it. While great doubt Lisa mark thank you so much for being on the Saturday and thank you for all you do and I independent options and adult family home agency appreciated thank you thank so much. That concludes another addition of living veteran San Diego the opinions expressed some living better in San Diego do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the staff and management. Of the and it comes San Diego radio stations. Episodes of living veteran San Diego are available on the station's website. Johnny next week when my guest will be from Jewish family service until then I'm Gary late have a great week.