2017/18 Institute on Community Integration Annual Report

Community Living

Julie Kramme is among the researchers and trainers working on the ICI projects infusing positive behavior supports into services for people with disabilities across the state of Minnesota.

Meeting the Needs of Waiting Communities: ICI’s Community Living Program Area

“The need for our research, training, and outreach grows as people with disabilities tell us what they want and need,” says Amy Hewitt, ICI Director. “We continue to push our capacity to translate knowledge effectively and quickly to waiting communities.” That commitment to timely, responsive work drives ICI’s Community Living Program Area staff to continuously expand their reach and effectiveness, and three areas where that drive has been especially apparent this year are the following:

Person-centered practices. Community Living staff delivered over 12,000 participant-hours of training in person-centered thinking and practices to Minnesota professionals in the fields of mental health, chemical health, human services, and disability services. The work is a collaboration with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), for which ICI staff also presented over 1,400 participant-hours of training through a year-long initiative to incorporate person-centered and positive support practices internally within DHS. And ICI’s Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL) co-sponsored the third annual Minnesota Gathering for Person-Centered Practices in November 2017 in partnership with DHS and The Learning Community for Person-Centered Practices; the event delivered over 3,500 participant-hours of training.

Outcome measurement. The Rehabilitation Research and Training Center on HCBS Outcome Measurement (RTC-OM) at ICI evaluates the quality of life experienced by people with disabilities as a result of receiving Home and Community Based Services (HCBS). This 5-year funded project is developing reliable, consistent measures for researchers, policymakers, and others collecting data to use in assessing the impact of HCBS on the lives of people with disabilities in their communities. As it began its third year, it had completed over 50 discussion groups nationwide that have collected input from a diverse set of stakeholders about what they believe are the most important personal outcomes and indicators of quality; and staff have examined HCBS outcome data collection instruments for people with different types of disabilities to identify gaps in measurement areas and best practices in outcome measurement.

Direct support workforce development. DirectCourse remains the gold standard for online training for the direct support workforce and related fields, and this year it trained over 750,000 learners in 41 states, with learners completing nearly 7.7 million lessons. New courses released this year included "Understanding Depression," "Roles and Responsibilities of the Home Care Worker," and "Trauma-Informed Care."

At the 2017 Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) annual meeting in Washington, DC, Kelly Nye-Lengerman (left) and Amy Gunty presented a poster session on ICI’s collaboration with the Institute for Community Inclusion (University of Massachusetts Boston) on an intervention to improve services to people with disabilities by employment consultants.

ICI Supports Competitive Employment for People with Disabilities

Nationwide, employment for people with disabilities remains stubbornly low. ICI's commitment to employment is steadfast and clear. "Having a job is a valued social role for people with and without disabilities," says Kelly Nye-Lengerman, a staff member with extensive experience in employment services and supports. "ICI's work informs policies and practices that support employment of people with disabilities in the community, in jobs and careers of their choice."

Several ICI projects promote competitive employment for people with disabilities. Nye-Lengerman points to ICI’s work with the Minnesota Department of Vocational Rehabilitation Services (VRS) as a good example. Staff at ICI's Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL) worked with VRS this year to provide training, technical assistance, and evaluation support for agency-wide implementation of person-centered practices supporting job seekers seeking competitive, integrated employment. "The use of person-centered practices supports individuals with disabilities to pursue work, build relationships, and take on their role as self-determined citizens," says Nye-Lengerman.

Collaboration also continued this year on the Think Work research project through a subcontract with the Institute for Community Inclusion at University of Massachusetts Boston. Project activities included beginning a year-long trial of an intervention for employment consultants across the U.S. who support people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to find meaningful, competitive, integrated employment in community settings. As part of the study project staff facilitated access to the DirectCourse College of Employment Services (CES) online training for providers of employment supports to people with disabilities, and provided one-to-one mentoring, monthly communities of practice, and a daily survey.

Susan O'Nell (second from left) speaks with a visitor at the African Mental Health Summit in St. Paul about the training, accompanied by project coordinator Merrie Haskins (third from left) and staffer Macdonald Metzger (right).

RTC-CL Developing Training in Mental Health and Co-Occurring Disorders for MN Professionals

A major sea-change in how services and supports are delivered to people with long-term support needs has been occurring nationally, bringing a growing emphasis on community living and participation, person- and family-centered practices, and self-direction. In support of this shift, ICI's Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC-CL) has a two-year, $249,000 contract with the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) called "Developing and Engaging Training on Person-Centered and Family-Centered Approaches in Mental Health and Co-occurring Disorders." 

Under the contract, RTC-CL is designing and implementing a culturally-responsive e-curriculum for professionals that includes interactive modules and embeds evidence-based practices vetted in the mental health and behavioral health service delivery system in Minnesota such as motivational interviewing, trauma-informed care, and integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders. Using the curriculum, the RTC-CL will train a minimum of 300 Mental Health-Targeted Case Management (MH-TCM) professionals, including MH-TCM lead agencies in metropolitan, rural, and diverse communities.

"An exciting part of this contract is the engagement of community members in defining and shaping these practices that affect them," says project manager Susan O’Nell. From December to February 2017, seven co-creation sessions were held, attended by a total of 94 community members. The participants, who attended from throughout the state, provided structured feedback on critical definitions, and helped prioritize and enhance proposed training topics. These sessions gathered service users, families, professionals, and others to get a wide variety of views and voices.

The sessions are part of a multi-tiered approach to engaging community members in shaping training for mental health and other professionals. Earlier work included facilitated sessions at two culturally-specific mental health conferences and one with the DHS mental health division. Staff also attended listening sessions with parent groups. Future efforts will include having community members and lead agency staff review outlines of the curriculum as it is developed and co-facilitate in-person delivery of training.


2017/18 Direct Support Workforce Online Training Using DirectCourse

A map of the U.S. with the caption: 750,000 learners from 41 states completed over 7.7 million lessons.

DirectCourse , operated by ICI's Research and Training Center on Community Living (RTC/CL) and by Elsevier, is comprised of four colleges:

  • College of Direct Support, based at the RTC/CL
  • The College of Employment Services, based at the Institute for Community Inclusion, University of Massachusetts Boston
  • The College of Personal Assistance and Caregiving, based at the Center for Personal Assistance Services, University of California, San Francisco
  • The College of Recovery and Community Inclusion, based at Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion for Individuals with Psychiatric Disabilities

Hours and Key Topics of Training by Community Living Staff in 2017/18

A circle graph with the caption: 1200-plus hours of in-person and distance training delivered to over 5800 participants by Community Living staff. The circle graph is divided into five topic areas in which training was provided: Person-centered thinking and practices, and positive supports; social and community inclusion; long-term services, research, and policy; wellness, employment, and family support; and direct support workforce.

Topics of Research Conducted by Community Living Staff in 2017/18

A circle with the word "research" in the center, with seven topic area names and a small drawing depicting each around the outside of the circle. The seven topic areas of research are quality of life, service outcomes measurement and improvement, inclusive/competitive employment, direct support workforce development, self-determination, family supports and services, and residential long-term services and supports.