Work Center “Transformation”; a phrase we’ve been hearing more and more. What is “Transformation”? According to Wikipedia, it’s: a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance. This is the plan is for the Arc of Onondaga Work Centers; a dramatic change. The NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) is requiring all agencies that support people with developmental disabilities that are currently operating workshops to develop a plan to transition people from workshops to more community-integrated settings and opportunities.
This will be a change to not only the work setting, but the support that we are able to provide. The work centers will not be the same and we want to make sure that we keep everyone informed each step of the way.
As we are fully aware, change is difficult for all people and education is essential. Participants transitioning from the work centers will be educated on the different day service options and recreation activities offered by the agency and in the community. Interaction with others within the community is an essential part of becoming a valued member of the environment where one lives, works and spends time. All individuals need to be supported to pursue community activities of their choice and interest.
It is important that people make decisions that are right for them. In order to ensure that decisions are made in a person-centered manner, people will be offered a full array of options and must be given the opportunity to explore programs and settings, whether the focus is employment or other meaningful activities.
Communication throughout the transition process is essential. We will know if a person is content with their service options only through conversation and interaction. In order for people to feel a sense of security and continuity, they must be offered the opportunity and supported to make decisions for themselves. The team that supports the person must know how they respond to change and minimize situations that may become problematic. Being proactive and encouraging constant dialogue, people will, in turn, feel less anxious about the changes that they may be experiencing.
With this change, the individuals we support will have choices. As we move forward in the next couple of years with plans to potentially create a new, competitive work place, they will have the opportunity to choose other supports from an array of options. These options may include day hab, volunteer work, community prevocational support and/or competitive employment.
Change is not always easy. Trying something new is a challenge, but also an exciting opportunity to explore different activities, meet new people and discover new talents.
So, we’re hoping that the people we support will try, and do and discover.
“I’m Choosing Because We’re Changing” was written by Kristen Morey, Assistant Executive Director, C.O.R.E. Services, Administration at Arc of Onondaga.