ACCESS news, Spring 2018

Letter from the Director 
By Rae Frank

Aw, finally Spring! If you’ve been bundled up and staying home now is a great time to stop in and check out the changes at our Independent Living Center.

Something I frequently hear is: “When your office was located on Swan Street…” I hope this short introduction can help straighten things out.  A former IL Center with a similar name was located on Swan Street but they stopped operations in 2010. New York State Department of Education asked Western New York Independent Living to serve people with disabilities in Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties and that is how Independent Living of the Genesee Region was established. We’ve been located and growing at 113 Main Street since then; governed by a council of local volunteer residents.

Another comment I hear is “I didn’t know you did that.”  Many people are surprised to learn that we: 

  • lend out free durable medical equipment
  • provide a personal care aide program
  • facilitate enrollment in Medicare and Medicaid and the Marketplace
  • attend social security hearings
  • advocate at social services
  •  transition people out of nursing homes
  • assist with employment, housing, transportation, and benefit applications
  • facilitate rent and security deposit payments
  • provide assistive technology for people with dementia
  • and give out free art materials.

In this newsletter you’ll get a glimpse of the team members at our Independent Living Center who provide these services and more. If you’ve got Spring fever and want to venture out, consider visiting our reception area to experience our newest ARTiculations art exhibit featuring the photography of Beth Allen. “Life, Lines & Light” is Beth’s colorful expression of how she uses mindfulness of the moment and her camera to benefit her mental health.

New Position
By Amie Dedman

I have been with Independent Living for 6 months and work in the CDPAS Program as the file clerk. I love this program. It is amazing for the elderly and people with disabilities to be able to stay in their homes with the help of others. I have had to assist with the PCA Coordinator job as it has not been filled yet. It has really helped me understand the whole process of the program. It has given me a lot of opportunity to grow as a person with doing orientations and working with the PCA’s, which I also love. Independent Living is a great place to work. I look forward to coming to work every day.  

A Little Bit About Me
By Angela Gioia

I would like to share a little bit about myself and what led me here to ILGR. I am a 38-year-old married, mother of 3. My children are ages 16, 14 and 8. I am a graduate of Batavia High School Class of 1997 and a 2009 Genesee Community College graduate with an Associate Degree in Physical Therapist Assistant. I have spent the past 8 years working per diem in nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities. I thoroughly enjoyed helping people, and especially working with the geriatric population. What I do not miss are the politics associated with healthcare, and that every minute spent treating was governed by the all-mighty billable dollar. 

Prior to that, just out of high school, I spent two and a half years at Fredonia State College studying Social Work. I always wanted to work in Human Services but ended up leaving Fredonia and starting my family. I was fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom for several years, before the dissolve of my first marriage. That’s when I went back to school changing my course of study to physical therapy. 

Now I am here starting my career with Independent Living. I am very excited to start this new chapter in my life!!! It is a goal of mine to someday obtain a Social Work degree. At least a Bachelor’s Degree, if not a Master’s, along with many other hopes and dreams…to be shared another time.

It Only Takes One Person to Make a Difference
By Ariana Hiscutt

One of my biggest struggles after graduation was finding employment. I ended up where I am today thanks to one professor at Genesee Community College and I owe it all to him. I decided I wanted to go back to community college to receive my associates in human services. This professor saw my application for admission and called me to talk to me about my plans. He asked why I was planning on taking three steps back when I have already made so many educational steps forward. I explained my situation and how difficult it was for me to find work and he invited me to take his internship class in the criminal justice program, assuring me it was going to make a difference. So, for one semester, I attended Genesee Community College and took his class. I was placed in an internship with Genesee County Probation, which left me with the experience and knowledge I needed to make positive changes employment wise. At this time, I was a cashier at Tops and living paycheck to paycheck when one of the probation officers told me about a job opening at Cazenovia Recovery Systems here in Batavia. I did not think I was at all qualified but was convinced to apply anyway. Due to my experience with the probation department, as well as my degree, I was a candidate for the position. I was interviewed and offered the job a few days later. After gaining more experience with Cazenovia Recovery Systems, I was approached with a job opening for Iroquois Job Corps as a Career Transition Specialist for youth 16-24. Over the year that I was with Job Corps, I was quickly finding that although I enjoyed working with the people I did and the kids on my caseload, it just was not what I wanted to do with my life. The company ended up being bought out by a new company and in this time, we were all looking for new jobs in case we were not offered our positions back. My good friend, Dominique Johnson, who was working at Independent Living and  worked with me at Cazenovia, told me about a position in his office that was open. I was interested in the position and decided to apply for it. I was called by the supervisor to set up an interview. I was interviewed by two staff at Independent Living and was offered the job a couple of weeks later. Western New York Independent Living has been one of the best agencies I have ever worked for. I would have not made it to where I am today without the help of the one professor/director who took time out of their day to push me to achieve better. 

“When you start living the life of your dreams, there will always be obstacles, doubters, mistakes and setbacks along the way. But with hard work, perseverance and self-belief there is no limit to what you can achieve.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart

Unexpected Surprises
By Avraham ben Baruch

B.F. Skinner (3/20/1904 — 8/18/1990) taught us that if we cannot adapt to our environment we should try to change it or leave it. Essentially, create an environment that enhances our well-being. For two years I have studied the environment of Independent Living of the Genesee Region and have finally decided it is an anomaly of the highest caliber and one that may never be replicated. 

There are eighteen people in this office that frequently function as one gifted, caring and supportive individual. We work together, and I know first hand that we care about and support each other. My co-workers are honest, sincere and genuine folks with big hearts. I am here because of them, I dislike cities intensely, but I recognize something beautiful when I see it. During my internship at UB, the value of this island of sanity became apparent. I told my wife, if Rae offered me a job, I would take it, if not, I will retire. I don’t want second best.  

What is a Health Home? 
By Colleen Larson

New York’s Medicaid program serves over 5 million enrollees. While most Medicaid enrollees are relatively healthy, the Medicaid program also has several population groups who have complex medical, behavioral, and long-term care needs that drive a high volume of increased cost services including inpatient and long term institutional care.

Navigating the current health care system can be difficult for the relatively healthy Medicaid recipients and even more so for enrollees who have increased-cost and complex chronic conditions that drive a high volume of increased cost of inpatient episodes. A significant percentage of Medicaid expenditures are utilized by this subset of the Medicaid population. Appropriately accessing and managing these services, through improved care coordination and service integration, is essential in controlling future health care costs and improving health outcomes for this population.

A Health Home is not a physical home, rather it is a care management service model whereby all individual caregivers communicate with one another so that a patient’s needs are addressed in a comprehensive manner. When all the services are considered collectively they become a virtual “Health Home.” This is done primarily through a “Care Manager” who oversees and provides access to all the services an individual needs to assure that they receive everything necessary to stay healthy, out of the emergency room, and out of the hospital. 

To be eligible for Care Management, the individual must be enrolled in Medicaid and must have two or more chronic conditions (there is an extensive list of possible conditions) OR have a serious mental illness OR have HIV/AIDS. After eligibility is determined, the individual and Care Manager will complete a comprehensive assessment to identify the individuals needs and then develop a Care Plan to address those needs. Everything we do here at Independent Living of the Genesee Region is person-centered. The person makes their own decisions and decides what their own goals are. If you’d like more information about Care Management at ILGR, please contact Colleen Larson at (585) 815-8501 ext. 404. 

“Do you think if you did not have a stutter, you would be a better version of yourself? Do you think you would do a better job?”
By Dai Nguyen

These questions come from a very close friend of mine, who is also my mentor and my encourager. The answer to both of these questions is no. I think my disability made me who I am now. It made me stronger and a person that works harder. I am Dai, from Viet Nam. I graduated from Genesee Community College with a Human Services degree. In my country, I have a Business Administration degree and an Accounting degree with 10-years of experience in customer relations. Working at Independent Living of the Genesee Region is not only a place that I feel very welcomed and accepted of who I am despite my disability, but also a place that I can overcome my weaknesses as well as start to help other people like me.   

Airport Travel
By David Dodge

Hundreds of frantic travelers hustling to their next flight after getting through pain staking security screenings, endlessly sprawling corridors of gates and vendors that do not seem to flow in any logical pattern, not to mention the constant bombardment of conflicting announcements that could confuse all who hear them – welcome to any international airport. Now, imagine trying to do this with a disability. 

Many people in the community assume that individuals with disabilities travel with another person that they know who assists them. In reality, people with disabilities are more than capable of traveling through even the world’s busiest airports especially when they are aware of the ways in which a person can advocate for assistance. 

The Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) allows for individuals with disabilities to request a guide to assist them with getting through security, moving around the airport to their gate, as well as getting on the airplane itself. In addition, the ACAA allows a person with a disability the opportunity to pre-board the aircraft first to give them extra time to find their seats. 

It is imperative that people with disabilities read more about the ACAA so that their rights can be fully understood and asserted when traveling to and on an aircraft. 

Soup for the Soul!
By Debra McKnight

What’s the Difference Between IQ and EQ?

Upon becoming employed at Independent Living, I sometimes wondered what I am doing here. I would look around at everyone sitting at the staff meeting and feel so inadequate. I would say, I am not as smart as that person, or not as engaging as that person, my IQ is limited.

One day as Oprah Winfrey would say, “I had an ah ha moment”. I came across the book titled Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goldman. In this book, Goldman defined the difference between IQ and EQ.  

IQ, according to Daniel Goldman:

  1. Visual and spatial processing
  2. Knowledge of the world
  3. Fluid reasoning
  4. Working memory and short-term memory
  5. Quantitative reasoning

EQ, on the other hand, is a measure of a person’s level of emotional intelligence.  This refers to a person’s ability to perceive, control, evaluate, and express emotions.  

EQ according to Daniel Goldman:

  1. Identifying emotions
  2. Evaluating how others feel
  3. Controlling one’s own emotions 
  4. Perceiving how others feel
  5. Using emotions to facilitate social communication
  6. Relating to others

That was my “ah ha” moment, I said I may not have the IQ of everyone else, but I have the EQ. I find that working in the field of Human Services, and working with people with disabilities, requires more of your EQ than IQ. Who needs to know math, science, social studies, American History, etc.? Your EQ is wrapped around empathy, emotions, compassion, perceiving how other’s feel, and relating to others. To answer my own question, “What am I doing here”? I am doing what I am supposed to be doing; showing compassion, perceiving how other’s feel, and most importantly, relating to others.

Do not misunderstand me, I am not saying that you do not need a high IQ, what I am saying, for me, it is just as important to have EQ to go along with your IQ. For me, having more of an EQ has heightened my self-esteem and the feeling of self-worth when I found that I had all the qualities of what it takes to be a good human being and a good service provider.

Sources: Daniel Goldman “Emotional Intelligence”

A Blurb About Dom
By Dominique Johnson

I am a husband and a father of two children, DeMarius and Aubreanna. My two children and wife are the most important aspects of my life. My children’s ages are 7 and 4, as they play a major role in the type of employment I chose as I cherish the time I get to spend with them. Working in the Human Service field has given me the opportunity to be there for my family and spend time with them daily. Those aspects of my life are very important to me because growing up, my mother typically worked 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday – Friday which made her available every day when we were getting out of school. Those experiences from my past have played a role in shaping how I wanted my children to be raised, while also granting me the ability to spend time with me daily. 

I came to Independent Living after working at Cazenovia Recovery Systems for 3½ years. In my previous employment, I spent time as a Case Manager, Substance Abuse Counselor and an Intake Counselor. I have spent my entire employment history working in the Human Service field. The ability to work with individuals in the community has given me a sense of purpose. While working in my position at Independent Living, I have had the opportunity to continue growing professionally given the different trainings and the freedom given by my supervisor, Rae Frank, to utilize and apply the things I have learned to assist individuals to the best of my abilities.

Being a Positive Influence
By Donna Becker

Life is about making goals. If there is one thing I have learned in 22 years of working in the human services field, it would be the compassion for others. Going back to work, after staying home for 14 years to raise my 3 children, was quite an adjustment, to say the least. I always thought of myself as a kind and compassionate person but never realized how much more my heart could grow until I started interacting with those that may have had obstacles in their lives that led them down the wrong path of life. Living a comfortable, sheltered, as some may say, life with my husband and children, I learned a great deal about others in need or in crisis. This is where goals come in to play for me. I would make it my goal to often break down or squeeze through a crack in a wall built by someone. I have come to realize that not everyone had the kind of life I had growing up, your average American family, mom and dad, kids, the family pet. I guess I often take it for granted. I now realize how blessed I was. So, I now make it my goal to be a positive influence, to put a smile on someone’s face, be a listening ear, give a much needed hug, go the extra mile to help in any way I possibly can. Being a positive influence can be contagious. Try it sometime!

Money Management
By Jennifer Siano

Nothing is more stressful than when you are out to eat with a friend and you go to pay your portion of the bill and your card gets declined. It only took that one time for me to want to make sure that never happens again. My priority has always been to make sure I have at least $20 in my account. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, it is very important to be able to save for emergencies. Every week, if possible, put $5 into an account and before you know it, you will have money saved. You just never know when you might have an emergency and need to tap into that savings account.

Coming soon to ILGR, we will be offering money management classes to our consumers. We encourage everyone to attend. Everyone is at various levels in their life. Some people may need to learn how to write checks or balance a check book. Others may want to know how to save money. 

Feeling Successful
By Jennifer Williams

This month I was fortunate enough to be able to facilitate a post transition Quality of Life Survey on one of our consumers. We had helped this consumer transition from a nursing facility last year. Our agency received nothing but praise and positive comments. The consumer and family were very happy with our services and life post transition. Having just recently begun this position within the agency, I found this to be very encouraging. I found proof that what we do here at this agency really does matter. We have the means to do great work and we have a positive impact on our community. Please remember this moving forward and apply it in your future endeavors.

A Unique Option for Help at Home
By Pat McAllister

If you have become unable to cook for yourself, clean your home, do your laundry, dress yourself, or afraid to shower without someone there to ensure your safety - any or all of these are reasons to consider getting help from a Personal Care Aide in order stay at home and remain independent.  

Chances are, you’ve never heard of the Consumer Directed Personal Assistant Services (CDPAS) which we provide here at Independent Living of the Genesee Region. It is a one of a kind program which puts you in charge of your Assistant; controlling when you want your services and how you want them done. Another unique aspect of this program is the Assistant’s ability to provide a number of services which are not offered through traditional care. Through CDPAS, an Assistant can help with everything from housework, laundry, personal care, medications, running errands and accompanying to doctor appointments. Also, unique to the program is the fact that a family member or friend (with just a couple of exceptions) can paid to be your Assistant!

Now realize that this is a program through Medicaid; but don’t let that scare you away if you are not currently receiving Medicaid. There are numerous ways to qualify for Medicaid and it costs nothing to apply to see if you are eligible. Our Facilitated Enroller can help you with the application and seek out the best method to become enrolled in Medicaid. This could open the door to a wide spectrum of services to you at little or no cost.

If you think you might be interested in CDPAS for yourself or someone you care about, don’t hesitate to call Pat at 585-815-8501 ext. 402. We can help you through the process and make daily challenges a bit easier.

Medicaid Services
By Rebecca Salvaterra

I have been with Independent Living of the Genesee Region for six months and continue to be amazed by all the services we provide with an amazing staff. Sometimes it’s the little things we do that make the biggest difference. My position entails helping the aged, blind, and disabled apply for Medicaid. Many individuals are in need of this additional insurance in order to obtain needed medical attention. The one example I would like to share is about a young man who is Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD) certified and was in need of Medicaid. This was a complicated case in which he was viewed as not being disabled by the state but disabled by OPWDD guidelines. This made it nearly impossible to get him Medicaid coverage. This young man was in dire need of his daily medications that he could not afford to purchase and had no insurance. After significant advocating, research, with a team effort, we got his Medicaid approved and he will be able to get the services he needs to continue to grow within the community. What may not seem like much to someone means the world to me because I was able to ensure he received the Medicaid and get the medications and services needed.

A Bit of My Background
By Bridget Mosman

I began my position as the new receptionist at ILGR in January. I received my Associates Degree from Genesee Community College in Liberal Arts, and Bachelor’s Degree from SUNY Fredonia in Social Work.  As the receptionist, one of my daily tasks is managing our Loan Closet. The Loan Closet is more than a closet, it is a very large storage room filled with wheelchairs, walkers, commodes, rollators, crutches, canes and other miscellaneous assistive devices to help those in need. A project I am excited to be working on is our new Wellness Hour. This is going to be a lecture series designed to bring awareness to different aspects of wellness. Our series will run on 4 consecutive Tuesdays beginning March 27 through April 17. I have enjoyed my time here these first couple months and I am looking forward to many more.