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Search QEP FY20 Results and FY21 Goals

Search Inc QEP Article

Search Team Meets for QEP: A Review of Our FY20 Results and FY21 Goals

Each year, the Search team comes together to reflect on program accomplishments of the past year and to discuss opportunities for improvement in the year ahead. As we know, 2020 was a year unlike any other.  Despite this, Search continued its annual practice of Quality Enhancement Planning to guide the upcoming year. In developing our fiscal year (FY) 21 Quality Enhancement Plan goals we considered whether the people we serve are achieving what is personally important to them as a result of our programs and services, through the lens of our shared COVID-19 pandemic experience. The result was the development of FY 21 goals for enhancing the personal outcomes of the people we serve and strengthening the mission, programs and services of Search in support of these outcomes. 

Our FY 21 goals build upon the success of our FY 20 plan and point us towards the future of Search in the post-pandemic era. Goals also align with priorities in support of our ongoing commitment to The Council on Quality and Leadership (CQL) Accreditation process. CQL works with human service providers, national organizations, member associations and governmental agencies throughout the world to improve the quality of life for people with intellectual, developmental and psychiatric disabilities.

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FY20 Outcomes

Despite the many challenges we faced in the final months of FY 20 as a result of the pandemic, the Search team was able to meet and make progress on all goals set the previous year.  Goals for improvement spanned the entire Search organization and included:

Continued Improvements to Supported Living

During FY 20, our team worked to increase opportunities for people to express themselves and make choices by providing input into the personal and common spaces at their homes. At the same time we strived to improve access to a variety of environments for both individuals served and the staff who support them. Personalization projects were implemented at several Supported Living sites by collaborating with individuals on the design and décor of their living spaces.

We partnered with Designs for Dignity, an organization that provides pro bono design services to nonprofits to breathe new life into existing nonprofit spaces giving them the platform from which they can better serve individuals in their focus mission. Working together with a team of interior designers, the individuals served and staff, we were able to complete a refresh of the living space at our Central Park home, complete with new furniture. We also engaged with Designs for Dignity to repurpose existing spaces within Central Park to support at-home day program activities.

Additionally, many physical plant projects were completed to improve accessibility within our homes in FY 20. These projects included an accessible deck and ramp at our Camp McDonald site, an accessible deck and landing at our Sycamore site, and an accessible deck and ramp at our Central Park home. These projects were made possible with Community Block Development Grants from the Village of Skokie and the Village of Mount Prospect.  Thank you to our partners!

Another priority of our Supported Living division in FY 20 was to increase opportunities for individuals to be involved in their own healthcare, including decisions about healthcare providers and the services they receive, and the management of their own healthcare.

Throughout the fiscal year, individuals and their support staff participated in virtual health and wellness groups to discuss critical health topics specific to each home. In these groups, individuals had opportunities to engage with their nursing teams on important topics related to their health and wellness, including medications, exercise, health issues and diet concerns. The Clinical Services team at Search facilitated nine meetings at different sites throughout the fiscal year.

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Adult Learning, Employment & Social Enterprise Growth

In September 2019, Search launched its second Ignite site, located in the Norwood Park neighborhood of Chicago.  This site provides a dynamic mix of classroom instruction, individual supports and community-based experiences.  The site opened with 16 participants and grew larger as the year continued. 

Our social enterprises expanded and pivoted throughout the year to offer additional opportunities and outlets to broaden Search’s impact.  To begin, there were many new opportunities for Visibility Artists, including 13 art shows and installations throughout the year.  These included a juried show, and the expansion of Visibility Arts online sales through our partnership with Toad&Co. Once the pandemic hit, Visibility Artists was able to continue providing opportunities for individual to make art and products through virtual classes, providing a creative outlet for so many during these unprecedented times.

In June 2020, Planet Access Company Store which was launched 10 years ago, underwent a full renovation and reopened as Planet Access, an official Toad&Co. partner store. Due to COVID-19, the store pivoted to offer a comprehensive online store to support sales during these unusual times. Toad&Co. merchandise, Visibility Art products, and a wide variety of socially-conscious, sustainable brands are featured in-store and online. We plan to throw a grand (re)opening of the store post-pandemic!

Also in FY 20, our advocacy and training focused enterprise, JJ’s List and our very own Disability Awareness Players completed 28 Disability Awareness Trainings for groups such as the NWU Bienen School of Music, Writers Theater in Glencoe, Chicago History Museum and Bell Elementary School.  In addition, in FY 20, the JJ’s List team provided 22 Hop on the Bus Workshops in collaboration with PACE Suburban Bus to local school groups training hundreds of students on the critical facets of public transportation use.

Working QEP Article

Finally, Search’s Career Services team celebrated ten competitive job placements in the fiscal year.  Despite the challenges to employment brought on by COVID-19 beginning in March, the team continued to support individuals to gain and maintain employment safely in their local communities.

Ongoing Focus of Person-Centeredness

Search forged ahead on specific initiatives in FY 20 to further strengthen our commitment to the CQL accreditation process. We made substantial progress on enhancing services for the individuals we serve through person-centered approaches throughout the year, including the completion of 12 person-centered alternative service plans, participating in quarterly CQL webinar trainings with all Personal Outcome Measure interviewers, as well as supporting individuals to engage in self-training with staff on their preferred method of goal implementation.  All of these initiatives reinforce an already robust emphasis on person-centered practices.


FY21 Quality Enhancement Goal Highlights

For FY21, the Search team identified 25 Quality Enhancement goals.  These goals support each service area of the organization. Goals also carry forward our ongoing commitment to improve the quality of services for the people we serve.  Each goal has a desired outcome and will be measured for progress on a monthly basis.  A few highlights of FY 21 goals include:

Improvement Goal: Build and advance organizational knowledge and understanding of racial healing and racial equity at Search through participation in various initiatives to build bridges to a more racially equitable Illinois. (Outcome: Fair Treatment and Respect)

Improvement Goal: Implement a comprehensive educational program for the management team, persons served and families to educate them on supported decision making and guardianship. (Outcome: Exercise Rights)

Improvement Goal: Create and implement a comprehensive plan to execute telehealth appointments within homes, including identifying private spaces, expanding and enhancing technology resources and supporting staff involvement in these appointments as needed. (Outcome: Best Possible Health)

Improvement Goal:  Continue implementation of alternative service plans for 15 additional people served, so that important information about needs and priorities are accessible to people served and the staff that support them. (Outcome: Personal Goals)

Improvement Goal: Provide the necessary technology within our homes to support opportunities for individuals to engage in their communities safely, including online shopping, virtual cultural and academic experiences and in-person activities as safety allows. (Outcome: Community Participation)

Improvement Goal: Create a dynamic virtual training platform for delivering Disability Awareness Trainings and conduct three virtual trainings this year. (Outcome: Exercise Rights)

Improvement Goal: Launch a robust and dynamic Virtual Day Services (VDS) platform and program and build enrollment within VDS to include individuals both living and not living with Search. (Outcome: Choice of Services)

Improvement Goal: Continue to provide community employment services and adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, with a goal of placing eight individuals into new competitive positions throughout the year. (Outcome: Choice of Work)

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