With Stay-At-Home orders in the wake of COVID-19, employees of Futures Unlimited have had to be creative in their work with individuals with intellectual disabilities.
“We have individuals who are used to getting up and going to work every day and that all stopped abruptly,” said Stacy Cowdin who manages one of the eight-person group living residences operated by Futures Unlimited. “Now everyone is home 24/7 and it’s been a pretty intense adjustment.”
Cristy Harris, another supervisor at Futures said the people they serve “have a lot more down time on their hands. Not everyone has the ability to know how to fill leisure time.”
Staff members have been teaching their clients to use Zoom, Facetime and Skype to communicate with people outside their homes.
Cowdin said, “We do all that we can to keep their minds and bodies busy.”
She and her staff are using board games, cook-outs, bike rides, walks, and cooking lessons to do just that all while encouraging social distancing.
“We’ve had to be creative at mealtimes setting up TV trays throughout the house and we’ve had to really restrict visitors.” Cowdin and her staff have encouraged and assisted those served to stay in touch with their families through video messaging platforms.
Harris said staff are making sure they have the necessary PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) when going into clients’ homes, which can be individual residences or group homes.
Even with the Stay-At-Home order being lifted May 3, it may take extra time before the people served by Futures are ready to venture outside their homes. More than half the people they serve are at higher risk for being infected with COVID-19.
Cowdin said staff morale has been good amid the changes.
“We are all cautious in everything we do in our personal lives to decrease any likelihood of bringing something into the home,” she said.
Harris said, “We have an amazing staff.”
In the midst of such uncertainty, Futures is hiring and has recently given their direct care staff a temporary $2/hour raise during the COVID-19 crisis. Interested individuals should visit www.futures-unlimited.org/careers to apply.