Wednesday - Apr. 15, 2020
Our lives have changed dramatically due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The Elmore Center, which was a bustling site where staff provided day services to Johnson County residents with intellectual and development disabilities, is currently closed until the risk of coronavirus subsides. Employment services, such as Project SEARCH, Emerging Artists and Papercrete Works have been suspended, and residents are now receiving needed supports in their homes until further notice.
JCDS was quick to act in the face of this threat. The services we provide are essential and do not and cannot cease, even with stay-at-home orders, economic slowdowns or public health emergencies. While we are all adjusting to a new normal, JCDS staff have been taking on new and additional responsibilities while remaining flexible to meet the needs of Johnson County residents who rely on our services.
Direct support professionals provide critical care. With residents staying at home, staff have changed their schedules to meet the various support needs, while minimizing risk to themselves and people served by following CDC guidelines and recommendations. Many DSPs have been coming in early or staying late, working different schedules and serving different people than they typically do. Several staff members who normally worked day shifts were suddenly thrown into residential services, many times with little to no advance notice. They have adjusted to learn how to best support the individuals in a new setting.
While many people working from home are now trying to balance family life and their jobs, DSPs are no different. They must navigate childcare and family safety, all while continuing to travel to work and risk exposure every day, even with adequate personal protective equipment provided by JCDS, social distancing practices and diligent cleaning protocols.
Multiple staff members cancelled scheduled time off and chose to remain working because they knew they were needed, even without being asked. DSPs are working on days off and taking on new tasks while remaining calm through the storm.
Their unwavering commitment keeps spirits up and supports the mental health of the people we serve. They are finding fun and exciting ways to engage the residents while they remain safe at home and socially distance themselves.
Staff and people served celebrated spirit week with fun themed days such as pajama day and backward day, staff put together project kits for the homes, and Friends of JCDS built and distributed care packages for all residences. They utilize technology to stay in touch and help the residents remain connected with friends and family. DSPs keep the health and wellness of the residents in the forefront of everything they do.
the camaraderie, selflessness and passion of JCDS staff, in addition to the patience, grace and tenacity of the people we serve has helped our agency and Johnson County tremendously during this difficult time. We don’t know when life will get back to normal, or what that normal may look like, but we do know that as a team, we can endure anything.