Community Involvement, Engagement and Enjoyment in Adult Services

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world” Mahatma Gandhi

Beginning in July of 2016, Grafton’s Winchester Adult Services department started utilizing a DBHDS Community Engagement grant program to enhance the services we provide to our clients through increased community integration.  This state funding has provided operational support with expenses such as transportation, activities and materials.  But a large portion of the grant has paid for the services of a Community Engagement Program Manager and Board Certified Behavior Analyst; and this combination has been the secret to our ongoing success!   Together, Jessica Judd and Katrina Ganoe have collaborated on programmatic design, individualized client assessments, practical skill building and preference-driven community engagement with groups no larger than a 1 to 3 staff to client ratio.  Clients go into the community with staff each day and participate in clubs, activities and vocational exploratory settings of their preference.  The community has embraced our groups and not only have clients developed new friendships and relationships but they have gained a sense of increased belonging and accomplishment.  To date, we have 25 clients in community engagement cohorts and plan to continue this opportunity to more clients over time.

Progress on Community Engagement groups:

Katrina Ganoe, BCBA, has used the Assessment of Functional Living Skills system to conduct assessments and measure skill acquisition.  Since August 1st start date of community engagement groups, we have had 1 group of 3 clients that have had a 3 month and a 6 month assessment and 5 groups that have reached a 3 month assessment.  Of those groups, for 3 month assessment, they have an average of 29 skills they have gained per person.  Our group that has had community engagement for 6 months has had an average of 76 skills gained per person.  The graph depicts the increased skills at 3 month and 6 month intervals.

CE Graph








According to Jessica Judd, Community Engagement Program Manager, the following has been feedback from staff:

“Clients have made it through historically challenging times of years without extreme behavioral challenges they once had.”

“The members of the community are very appreciative.”

“Staff job satisfaction has increased.”

“The clients are happy and tired at the end of the day; they sleep much better!”

“Community Engagement has become an entity to brag upon in the Adult Services Day Program…. we have seen such tremendous progress in skill acquisition and socialization and a decrease in [problem] behavior. It is truly praise worthy.”

“The groups have taken the initiative to go to places that have elevators and train the clients how to use them when visiting malls, doctor’s appointments, and other places that have elevators. They are training the clients when they are doing transport what the dashboard of the van means.”

“Some of the clients who are participating in CE could not have sat through an entire meal in a restaurant 3 months ago. Now they are successful and having a meaningful moment in the community and engaging with the people who are also out in the community with them.”

“They care about how they are dressed and how they are acting in the community. They want their new friends to see them as part of their community.  The negative behaviors during the day and evening have decreased drastically.”

“They go to the grocery store with very small lists and use picture grocery lists if needed and the clients go and find the items on their own and they did not have this skill six months ago. They are also learning how to swipe the credit card and complete the transaction with the cashier on their own.”

Group Home managers and families have celebrated with us as they have seen differences in the home settings as well.  We have always preached that there are learning opportunities everywhere, every day and all the time.  By giving our staff targeted tools and supports, they are steadily and proactively owning their teaching role.  This gives staff a true sense of ownership and pride in their clients’ progress and the possibilities are endless.  And this is why we are here – to help clients reach their full potential in all areas of life and to become integrated members of their supportive community!