What began over 40 years ago as a “cooperative model” of respite services founded by a small group of local families, has, over the years, grown into an organization offering a variety of service types at a variety of service venues.
Today, Hartwood employs nearly 200 full and part-time staff. Current direct care staff, administrative support staff and managers with tenure beyond 7 years number in the eighties.
Hartwood’s Executive Director (the agency’s first paid employee) was hired in 1984 for his planning and development expertise and strong personal philosophy and vision of the possibilities for individuals with disabilities. Today, Hartwood employs nearly 200 full and part-time staff. Current direct care staff, administrative support staff and managers with tenure beyond 5 years number in the seventies.
Hartwood’s volunteer Board of Directors is comprised mainly of parents of individuals served in Hartwood residential programs along with other professionals who live and work in the local community.
HFI programs are currently grouped in pairs with oversight responsibility for each pair assigned to a mid-level manager (Team Leader) and his/her assistant (evening Shift Supervisor). These managers work on site during peak service hours and are responsible for facility, personnel and service recipient support management. Hartwood’s Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) work 8-hour shifts and provide support with health and safety, personal care, activities of daily living and community social and recreation activities. Hartwood recognized long ago that positive interactions between the direct care worker and the individual is key to successful service provision. Hartwood seeks to cultivate these relationships through formal, informal, and on-the-job training of staff.
Hartwood Foundation, Inc. was founded in 1973 as a nonsectarian, nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the interests of and opportunities for persons with intellectual disability and other developmental disabilities. The volunteer Board of Directors elected to pursue this mission through the development and operation of respite and residential programs; and the establishment of private funds to support special activities for service recipients and staff.
First and foremost, Hartwood operates with the understanding that individuals with intellectual disability and other developmental disabilities are just that, individuals – with their own likes, dislikes, preferences and support needs. All operational activities flow from that axiom. Hartwood also maintains that, with support and supervision, those whom we serve can, and should, be active members of their neighborhoods and communities. Hartwood pursues opportunities for “normalizing” activities to ensure that service recipients are afforded all the rights and privileges of their fellow citizens.
Given current economic challenges which transcend all fields and industries, Hartwood recognizes that it must remain flexible as an organization. Hartwood leadership remains willing to make tough decisions and compromises, when necessary, such as “floating” the size of residential programs, to ensure that every person served continues to receive adequate and appropriate services designed to meet his/her individual needs.
At Hartwood, we speak often of our three imperatives. While the agency’s primary focus is the health and safety of our service recipients, we must also assure that we comply with the applicable rules, laws, and regulations. Achieving these first two imperatives would have little meaning if we did not also believe in the importance of individuals pursuing their personal interests, goals, and dreams. And so, Hartwood continues to pursue best practices or enhancements which lead to an improved quality of life for our customers.
Hartwood utilizes regular program and utilization reviews conducted by mid-level managers and directors to identify areas of success and issues which require our focused attention. Additionally, agency Policies and Procedures reviews, individual and family satisfaction surveys and pro-active communication with service partners and families are all means employed to identify issues and develop action plans to address those issues.
In addition to mandated training in the areas of; Human Rights, Behavior Management, First Aid and CPR, Medication Administration, Diabetes, OSHA, Health and Safety and Developmental Disabilities, Hartwood staff also receive training in the areas of agency-specific individual behavior support, agency-specific medication administration procedures and individual-specific orientation and training.
Hartwood adheres to the C.S.B.’s fee schedule which mandates that no more than 75% of the individual’s adjusted income may be designated for his/her service fees. The individual’s service fee covers a portion of the cost of room and board. The calculation allows for 25% of the individual’s income to be reserve for purchase of personal items, community recreational outings, clothing, etc.
In Hartwood programs, weekly tenant meetings are conducted wherein all service recipients are encouraged to, and supported in, identifying prospective recreation outings/events. Hartwood maintains special private funds set-up for the sole purpose of allowing individuals to participate in community social/recreation events/activities when they would otherwise be unable to do so. Past activities have included; trips to the beach, local museums, fishing, arts and crafts, bowling, movies, Special Olympics, and BBQs.
Private Hartwood vehicles are used for community outings and some medical and other appointments. However, where possible, Hartwood strives to take advantage of Medicaid sponsored transportation for trips to/from day support programs and medical appts.
Hartwood strives for immediate resolution to all legitimate concerns/complaints. For any case wherein an individual’s health or safety is reportedly at risk, the local authorities are notified and an internal investigation is conducted concurrently. When abuse or neglect of a is suspected, the agency takes all actions necessary to attenuate further risk, including, but not limited to, arranging for immediate medical evaluation and treatment and removal of staff from the program pending the outcome of the investigation(s).
Hartwood staff implement only positive pro-active approaches to behavior support. Hartwood prohibits the use of restrictive behavioral interventions, i.e. time-outs, seclusion, and restraint, for purposes other than stabilizing an emergency situation wherein an individual’s health and safety are placed at serious risk. Hartwood may request, through the local CSB, the involvement of a Behavioral Consultant for more difficult situations, especially those which do not seem to be benefitting from standard behavior support strategies.
Hartwood encourages service recipients and their families to select the health care practitioners of their choice. A conservative approach is taken with health and safety matters and the agency prohibits group home staff form making medical decisions or clinical judgments. If, at any time, anyone involved in the individual’s life questions whether he/she should receive medical attention, arrangements are made to do so. In fact, Hartwood successfully carries out nearly 200 medical appointments every month.
Hartwood relies on the team approach to supporting individuals in the community. A Shared Planning meeting may be called in order to share information and develop a plan to support the individual given his/her new support needs. Sometimes an internal transfer is prudent, i.e. moving to a different bedroom within an existing home or, for example, to one of Hartwood’s barrier-free homes. When an individual’s needs are such that he/she requires an environment and/or specialized services beyond that which Hartwood can provide, we work with CSB support coordination in locating an alternative placement – one better situated to address the individual’s needs in their entirety.