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An Update from Advocates Life Skills and Learning Center
The winter has flown by, and spring is here! The sun is shining longer, flowers are sprouting, and the birds are singing. Yahoo!
Plan for Isolation and Discharge of Sick, Symptomatic, or Exposed Unvaccinated individuals:
Unvaccinated individuals will not be required to quarantine following an exposure to COVID-19 if they are asymptomatic and local community and program transmission levels are not high, and therefore will not be isolated. If local community transmission levels, and/or transmission levels within Advocates Day Services are high (as determined at the discretion of the Vice President of DS/BI Day services and the Senior Healthcare Coordinator), a 10-day quarantine will be required and the individual may be isolated.
All individuals served are expected to comply with any current travel recommendations from the state of Massachusetts, as well as any travel recommendations set forth by the CDC. Please refer to https://www.mass.gov/info-details/covid-19-travel-order and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/travel-during-covid19.html for the most up to date information.
A travel form is not required for travel within the United States.
Following any international travel, all individuals must complete and return the International Travel Form with any required documentation attached and receive approval from the program nurse or Vice President of DS/BI Day Services prior to resuming attendance at the day program. The following is required prior to their return to the day program:
- Notify Elizabeth Bardasz, email@example.com, prior to travel.
- Complete and return the International Travel Form.
- Provide any required documentation for the criteria checked. In all instances individual must also be asymptomatic for any symptoms of COVID-19.
- Receive clearance from the program nurse once this information is received. (Please contact Emily Donahue, firstname.lastname@example.org)
There are 3 options to use when traveling Internationally:
- Regardless of vaccination status- Individual returned to the U.S. at least 5 days ago, is asymptomatic, and received a negative COVID-19 test. PCR and rapid tests will be accepted.
**All rapid home test manufacturer instructions must be followed. This may require two negative tests within 24-36 hours. Please read all instructions closely.
- Regardless of vaccination status, individual returned to the U.S. at least 10 days ago and has remained asymptomatic.
- Individual has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 90 days- and successfully completed a 10 day self-isolation (positive test results attached).
Pathways Inclusive HealthCare (PIHC) is a joint partnership of Advocates Developmental and Brain Injury services with the University of Massachusetts Medical School Shriver Center. This new project is currently being implemented at the Life Skills and Learning Center in Ashland. In partnership with Shriver, we are collaborating to onboard 3-4 scholars per school year, hired into skills instructor positions. Shriver identified students interested in applying for advanced health degrees. Many of these students are doing a gap year while they try to better position themselves for entrance into medical, clinical, nursing, or other related programs. These scholars work at the day program and, one day a week, they are with Shriver professors learning about the disability services field. Along the way, students develop special projects, learning so many hands-on skills and developing lasting relationships.
Our new additional Occupational Therapist (OT), Julie Savoyski started with us a few months back. Julie comes to us with many years of OT experience in management, leadership, training, and more. She previously was a lead Day Hab OT at a sister human services agency. Julie’s focus is with DS Day Services enhancement of programs and services, assistive technology assessment and development, staff training, as well as mentoring of the new Scholar Program. We are so lucky to have her on our team!
Welcome, Emily Valante our new Receptionist/Admin. Emily comes to us as a graduate of Clark University in Women’s and Gender Studies with more than five years of experience in human services. Emily sits at the front area and plays an integral role on our team. She will be the go-to for day services events, assisting with newsletters and family/caregiver communication, and more. We are very excited she has joined our team and I know she will be a great resource to all of you!
The Employment Team was nominated for Advocates' Bill Taylor Award, in honor of our former beloved President and CEO. Bill often remarked that one of Advocates’ greatest strengths was its committed, caring, and compassionate staff. The Bill Taylor Awards recognize employees and teams that demonstrate excellence in service delivery. The team was celebrated for their longevity, compassion, and commitment to Advocates and those served. Three members of the team have been here throughout their career with 16-30 years between them.
DDS Licensure and Certification took place in the month of March for our Community-Based Day Supports and Employment Services. Day services did an outstanding job with a 96% out of 100% score. We hosted three DDS staff on site who had the opportunity to chat with staff about programs and services, but more importantly with many of the people we support. They discussed volunteer sites, friends, where they work, and why they like to come to Advocates. They were impressed with accommodations for creativity in job development and staff’s great knowledge and familiarity with each individual’s unique desires and needs.
Vice President of Developmental and Brain Injury Day Services
Update brought to you by Stephen Robery, Director of Operations
MassHealth Eligibility Redetermination
Over the next several months, MassHealth will be mailing out letters to determine members' MassHealth eligibility. Here is what you can do to be prepared so there are no lapses in a member’s MassHealth insurance coverage:
- Create an MA Login Account. An MA Login Account is the fastest way to renew your MassHealth coverage and update your information. Current members under the age of 65 can create an account by visiting mass.gov/masshealthlogin or https://www.mass.gov/masshealth-eligibility-redeterminations
Members Over 65 need to call into MassHealth Help Center (800) 841-2900. The renewal process and submission of documents is to be done through mail/fax.
- Update contact information. Make sure MassHealth has current addresses, phone numbers, and emails so you don’t miss important information.
- Read ALL mail from MassHealth. MassHealth will mail information about health benefits that may require you to take action to keep your current coverage. Look out for a blue envelope in the mail and make note of the important deadlines.
We continue to offer tours for families to learn more about Advocates Life Skills and Learning Center. Tours are available during the day upon request! There are protocols for tours that occur during operating hours that can be discussed in further detail upon scheduling. Please reach out!
One Care Passive Enrollment
One Care Passive Enrollment is an automatic enrollment of someone into a One Care Plan. This may occur when a MassHealth member has newly become MassHealth and Medicare eligible. The individual will receive two notices prior to the enrollment, 60 days, and 30 days. You may opt out of this enrollment.
Timetable for Contract Year 2023
(quarterly passive waves follow the same timeline annually)
- Guardians/caregivers and providers can be notified of passive enrollment into One Care as long as there is an Authorized Representative Designation Form or a Permission to Share Information form on file with MassHealth.
- Enrollment in One Care is not mandatory. You may opt out at any time.
Advocates Day Habilitation is NOT contracted to provide Day Habilitation for individuals with a One Care plan. We allow a 75-day grace period of attendance to Day Habilitation from the start of enrollment into One Care. Please be on the look out for these enrollment notices.
Update brought to you by Emily Donahue, Senior Healthcare Coordinator
Happy spring! We’re moving right along into 2023. In March, we hosted a vaccine clinic on site for the flu shot and COVID-19 boosters that was available to both staff and individuals served. We hope to host more clinics in the future.
As we look forward to warmer weather, topics of conversation for healthy living include dressing for the weather, is junk food bad for us?, and fruits and vegetables that can be grown locally. We enjoy developing activities for the weekly activity schedule and running our Healthy Living group with Choices on Friday afternoons.
A reminder from nursing: All individuals must maintain an annual physical and medication list on file at the day program to attend. We allow a 90-day grace period from the date of the last physical. Please keep an eye out for reminders from nursing and reach out with any questions.
Lastly, we received an additional limited supply of rapid COVID-19 tests. We are happy to be able to offer test kits for those who could use them at home. If you would like some test kits, please reach out with a request. Stay well!
Update brought to you by Kelly McKeon, BCBA, Director of Clinical Services
Our women’s group meets weekly with a small group of women in our Choices program and focuses on a range of topics. During each group we start with an open conversation, where everyone is given an opportunity to share and discuss anything they feel will be meaningful to the group. During group, we focus on a lesson and a project, and we end group by each person sharing a positive for the week.
In March, we focused on friendships, discussing the importance of friendships being balanced, stable, and accepting and each person setting and respecting boundaries. We talked about how people have differences and how that may impact making a keeping friendship. Some of the projects we completed were a calming watercolor painting and creating a puzzle visual, with each person identifying positive characteristics about themselves.
During the remainder of the 2023 calendar year, Advocates Day Services will be closed for the following holidays.
- Memorial Day – Monday, May 29, 2023
- Juneteenth – Monday, June 19, 2023
- Independence Day – Tuesday, July 4, 2023
- Labor Day – Monday, September 4, 2023
- Thanksgiving Day – Thursday, November 23, 2023
- Day after Thanksgiving – Friday, November 24, 2023
- Christmas Day – Monday, December 25, 2023
***The Advocates Life Skills and Learning Center will be OPEN for regular business hours on: Monday 10/09/2023 (Indigenous People’s Day); Friday 11/10/2023 (Veteran’s Day)
Please note that any additional vacations, including camps or time off, must be given in writing to the manager of the program. We ask for at least a two weeks' notice so that, if needed, we can alter programs, events, and staff scheduling.
About the Life Skills and Learning Center: Through our Day and Employment Services at the Life Skills & Learning Center, Advocates staff partners with adults who have disabilities and their families to customize experiences and activities uniquely suited to each person’s interests, skills, needs, and goals. Learn more at www.Advocates.org/LSLC.