Social distancing poses a serious challenge for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities who live in group homes. Most look forward to a familiar pace of leaving their homes each day for jobs in the community, employment transition services, adult day services, and social interaction with their friends.
COVID-19 disrupted all of that.
Public health officials stressed that all of us could play an important role by staying home to limit the spread of illness. Unfortunately, most group homes are not regularly staffed during daytime hours because their residents are usually in the community.
Easterseals recognized early on that many of the people it serves would be missing critical supports they rely on for engagement, safety, and greater independence. Some didn’t understand how or why COVID-19 was changing the world around them – and were left shaken and confused about their temporary “new normal.”
Transportation options grew limited. Other agencies made the very difficult choice to close their doors. We knew something had to be done.
When it became clear the people we care for would no longer be able to travel to Easterseals, a plan was put into place to bring our services directly to them.
Easterseals teamed with Ohio Valley Residential Services (OVRS), a fellow member of the Human Services Chamber of Hamilton County, to bring Adult Day Service programming into group homes around Greater Cincinnati. The result has been inspiring.
Easterseals employees are now working in eight group homes operated by OVRS, serving about 42 of its residents every day.
Agency staff prepare activity packs back at the office with art supplies, games, and projects to keep the residents engaged and spirits up. When the weather is nice, staff and residents have been able to enjoy short walks while learning the importance of social distancing.
This is a partnership that shows Ohio’s can-do spirit when it comes to making sure that all of its citizens are cared for and supported. Our work at Easterseals and OVRS is essential, and it has been energizing to see how quickly solutions were created when time was of the essence.
The leadership of Gov. Mike DeWine and Dr. Amy Acton have been reassuring as we all strive to healthier at home. As essential employees serving a population vulnerable to the impacts of the coronavirus, we hope to make this time happier at home as well.