Posted by Allison Hammond on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
The Arcadia Institute launched the Community Broker Program in April 2012. Even though we have a long way to go to fully realize the potential of this new venture, the results of our work so far are encouraging.
The focus of Community Brokering is to assist an people to develop community pathways to realize their dreams for people. Community pathways lead toward meaningful activity, inclusive living arrangements, and competitive employment. Brokering provides opportunities for people to engage in the whole community as they choose.
The underlying philosophy of the Community Broker Program is that our staff act as the broker between the individual and the community. Through true person centered planning that occurs over an extended process, and not just one meeting we keep the focus on the individual and his or her dreams for becoming a full community participant. Realizing one’s dream is based on relationships and networking in the community to meet one’s goals. This process is really not new. In developing the community broker concept we are heavily indebted to the work of people like John and Connie Lyle-O’Brien, Marsha Forest, Jack Pearpoint, Linda Kahn and Beth Mount.
The basic steps in the Community Broker process are:
• Getting to know the person through a variety of interactions in various places in the community
• Identifying the people in the person’s Community Circle
• Discovering the person’s Dream
• Learning about the person’s gifts and needs for support
– communication style
- supports needed to be in the community
- weekly routine
• Inviting people to the person’s futures planning meeting
• Convening the futures planning meeting – MAP or PATH
• Following along to implement the plan
• Convening Follow Along Meetings to track progress or trouble shoot
• Creating new MAP or PATH as necessary
A diagram of the Community Broker Process
To date we are working with 24 individuals and most closely with 12 of them. Below is a graphic of the dreams and gifts of these 12 people. Notice the commonalities and yet individuality of each dream in the picture below. Many of them want to have a job and live independently. Some see themselves having and supporting their own families. A couple of people really want to learn how to read better.
A graphic rendition of the dreams of 12 people we are working with
We have also been tracking outcomes of Community Brokering. So far 10 people have increased the number of people in their community circle. Eight people have begun to participate in meaningful community activity that is not in special programs. Eight people have moved closer to competitive employment. Three people are exploring more independent living. Below is a graphic report of the outcomes of Community Brokering so far.
Posted by Allison Hammond on Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The blog this week was written by George Martin, President of The Arcadia Institute.
March 31st marked the end of the first year that we have been doing community brokering. The year has been a success for us. We have provided support for over 20 individuals. We have developed guidelines for the program and worked out very effective relationships with many different providers.
As we pause and reflect on the past year, the most important question is whether we have truly been acting as a community broker. The term ’broker’ is used in the Medicaid Provider Manual. The responsibilities are defined. The boundaries are laid out. Our work has been consistent with all those requirements. So, we are meeting the formal requirements laid out in the Manual. However, we are trying to go beyond those requirements and engage both the individual and the community in our concept of brokering.
If you look up the definitions of the different kinds of brokers, power broker, real estate broker, financial broker, the common characteristic is that the broker is a go between for at least two entities. The broker’s job is to ensure that each party’s needs and interests have been at least considered, if not completely met, in the negotiations that occur.
In our case, the two primary parties are the individual with a disability and the community. The two main elements of our brokering are the individual’s preferences and inclusion into the community ( I mean the larger community, not the smaller world that people with disabilities all too often find themselves in.). Our negotiations work to insure that the individual takes part fully in the community and that the community is at the heart of the support the individual receives. We have a dual responsibility of invoking the community’s participation and keeping the community open to the individual’s participation. So, we broker between the person and the community to the mutual benefit of both.
This dual obligation requires us to work toward the building of a strong community, rather than just draw off the resources of the community. So, as the broker between the individual and community we must strive to make the community better as we assist the community to fully include people with disabilities. We must spend some of our time and other resources to strengthen the whole community so that it can continue to support those we serve and all others.
Posted by Allison Hammond on Tuesday, May 7, 2013
The blog this week was written by Michele Momotiuk, Administrative Assistant at The Arcadia Institute.
Research has shown that the benefits of social connection include increased happiness, better health, and a longer life. As written in our recent blogs, social connections are helping some individuals find jobs, many others to make valued contributions to the community, and are a key component to living well. I personally know that my life is greatly enriched by my social connections including having gotten my job through a connection.
But what does it mean to be authentically connected to another? In a world where I have 297 friends on facebook, I still struggled to figure out who to list as an emergency contact on my son’s school paperwork. I know a lot of people whom I can have a brief social interaction with when I see them in my neighborhood, at the park, or around town. But it is not easy to find someone to really connect with, to spend the time to build a deeper relationship, get to know each others gifts and dreams and authentically be connected. It is not easy, but these are the connections that enrich our lives.
My big take-away from the Building a Community of Belonging Forum that was held in March was that the twelve individuals with disabilities that shared their stories with us have dreams that I believe connect us all. We all want a nice place to live, we all want to feel valued in jobs or in other ways we contribute to the community, and we all want to have people in our lives to whom we are connected. At the Arcadia Institute, we have seen that when individuals are connected to others, those connections can be key in helping achieve all aspects of their dream.
I am challenging myself and you to think about the connections you have in your life. Do we have the friends we authentically connect with or do we have only facebook friends? Take time and effort to go deeper with someone and see how we enrich each other’s lives and use our gifts to help each other achieve our dreams.
Posted by Allison Hammond on Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The blog this week was written by Deborah Warfield, Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute.
Everyone makes a valuable contribution to the community. Persons with disability have historically and continue to, on a daily basis, make contributions to community. In order for us to be the community that moves from lack of value to valuing everyone, we all must be willing to slow down, listen more and look deeper at the value that persons with disabilities bring to our community.
The Arcadia Institute starts off with assumptions that persons with disabilities can function in independent or inter-dependent living arrangements. We start off assuming that every person with a disability has gifts that would be a blessing somewhere in this community. We also start off with the assumption that every person with a disability deserves to be involved in meaningful activities of their choice. Along the journey towards inclusion, we overcome barriers and identify allies until we assist persons with disabilities in finding value being valued in various place and spaces in our community.
A community that values everyone opens themselves up to at least four areas:
1. Examining policies and procedures relative to inclusion.
2. Educating your organization about inclusion.
3. Experiencing authentic relationship-building with persons with disabilities.
4. Exposing you and your organization to alternative options and opportunities.
As I begin to close, think of the economic, social, physical and spiritual implications that expanding our openness of valuing everyone could have upon our community. Increase employment options, housing alternatives, more meaningful activities and overall improved quality of life.
My colleague, Jennifer reminded us last week that every person values basic needs and desires that include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ask yourself the following question, am I an asset or a barrier as it relates to valuing all persons within my own community in their search for improved quality of life?
Posted by Allison Hammond on Tuesday, April 23, 2013
The blog this week was written by Jennifer Goodwill, a Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute.
Living well. What does that mean to you? Is it a nice house, money in the bank, lots of friends, a fancy job title. I recently heard someone say that a white picket fence represents happiness to her. While she didn’t go in to detail about why that makes her happy, I can imagine based on her other comments that it represents security, family and maybe even a sense of accomplishment. I’ve been thinking about this myself and wondering what does living well really mean to me. As I think about this, comments from our recent forum, Building a Community of Belonging, have been playing through my mind. The day of the forum concluded with individuals sharing about their hopes and dreams for their futures. While their answers were all unique, there were common elements found in all their stories that reminded me of how our humanness connects us all. Elements that I believe get to the heart of what it really means to live well. These individuals with different abilities and different backgrounds all talked about getting married, having a home to call their own, finding jobs where they are valued, and, quite simply, having the freedom to pursue their interests. Our answers to what it means to live well will be as varied as the people responding, but it seems that connections to other people and doing something meaningful are qualities that really matter to all of us. So, what does living well mean to me? Sure I enjoy vacations, fine dining and living comfortably. But, what really matters the most is that I want to love and be loved. I want to provide for myself and my family. I want to feel a sense of purpose and be a part of something bigger than myself. I want to know that my life matters and if I was gone tomorrow, I would have made a positive impact in the world around me. When we take the time to get to know people and listen to them, we can get past the discomfort of our differences and find there are many similarities that bind us together. What does a life well lived mean to you? And, more importantly, what opportunities do you have to share that would enable someone else to live well?