Specialized Focus Areas
Introduction

Because of medical advances, improved technology and better overall living conditions, the average lifespan of our nation’s population has increased significantly over the past several decades.  Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) are also living longer even with more complex and multiple physical and medical needs. 

Because of genetic syndromes and related physical issues, adults with I/DD are prone to development of chronic medical issues earlier in life.  In response to these needs, Beaverbrook STEP has developed a wide range of health care, medical, technical and support services designed for adults with multiple needs and elders who want to age in place.

Nearly 40% of the individuals served by Beaverbrook STEP are elders who have additional health and medical needs attributable to the aging process.  With aging, these individuals have more difficulties with activities of daily living, maintaining their own households and/or sustaining employment. 

STEP also serves a growing population of younger adults with I/DD who have complex and multiple medical and therapeutic needs.  These adults need barrier free living environments, durable medical equipment and in home health care supports.

STEP provides all of these individuals with the additional staff support, supervision, personal care and in home health care services they need to continue to ‘live in place’ in their own homes.  They are supported by medically trained staff and specialized clinical practitioners as necessary.  Additionally, there is an emphasis on providing barrier free homes/environments and use of adaptive equipment and assistive devices.  Specialized day and employment training supports are available through our exclaimed Options Day Services programs (See Day Programs).
•  Medical Services & Elder Supports
Specialized Services

Beaverbrook STEP provides specialized supports for individuals with diagnoses of intellectual and developmental disabilities and Alzheimer's disease. Our comprehensive array of services, modified home environments and in home health care services are designed to assist adults who are experiencing  memory loss, sensory deficits, increases in anxiety and depression and related mobility, behavioral and communication problems.  Our residences are designed for this population, providing sensory and relaxation areas, barrier free environments and state-of-the-art, multi-modal communication devices and technology.  These features ensure optimal functioning for individuals as they face declining skills. As a result, the individuals served are able to experience life-long dignity and security.

Although the majority of elders served by STEP are “aging in place,” and live with adults of various ages, some individuals need more structured environments.  STEP has developed specialized programs and services to meet the needs of these adults.  For example, STEP operates:
•  A specialized 24 hour residential program that serves 5 adults who are diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s
    disease;
•  Four 24 hour staffed homes that provide durable medical equipment, barrier free home environments and a wide
    range of medical supports to meet specialized medical needs. These homes provide environments for adults and
    elders with complex health care and medical needs, including Roland funded individuals who previously resided in
    nursing homes;  and
•  A comprehensive support program providing 24 hour staff support and case management services to 2 elders who
    live in apartments at Brigham House, an assisted living facility located in Watertown.
Health Care & Medical Services

Individuals with I/DD have a higher prevalence of health related conditions and medical needs than the non-disabled population.  They develop medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, digestive disorders, cardio/pulmonary diseases and sensory losses at higher rates and at earlier ages.  Adults with I/DD are also at a higher risk of developing concurrent mental health and behavioral disorders.   Beaverbrook STEP addresses all of these needs on a daily basis, placing emphasis on each person’s needs in all areas: health and wellness, mental health and behavioral services, barrier free living environments and in home medical supports. 

STEP’s Director of Health Care Services is a Registered Nurse with extensive knowledge and experience in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities.  The Director works collaboratively with the STEP’s Clinical Team to provide each person served with the appropriate medical and clinical services including:

•  Management of medical care, in-home nursing and personal care services;
•  Development of care plans based upon comprehensive assessments that establish baseline data and identify each
    person’s changing needs as they age;
•  Development of necessary social service supports, accessible environments, assistive technology and multi-modal
    communication features, designed to insure optimal functioning for individuals as they face declining skills due to
    aging, dementia and/or chronic health care conditions;
•  Provision of durable equipment, assistive & adaptive devices and technology devices; 
•  Development of necessary clinical and behavioral (ABA) services; and
•  Coordination of community activities and day services based upon each person’s needs.
Training & Resources

Beaverbrook STEP provides comprehensive training for staff and managers focused on meeting the changing needs of individuals served as they age.  On-going training includes:

•  Comprehensive medical protocols and procedures tailored to each individual
•  Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
•  Accessible design of home environments
•  Proper use of durable medical equipment, assistive & adaptive devices
•  Exercise, nutrition and wellness
•  Accident & fall prevention
•  Communicating with medical providers
•  End of life planning and care
•  Loss & Grieving
•  Use of generic community based health care services
•  Retirement planning

Beaverbrook STEP also provides educational workshops for family members and guardians around Aging with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities; Nutrition and Exercise; Estate Planning and Guardianship; and Communicating with Care Providers.  (See Family Support Resources for more information.)
The Enhanced Elder Services Project

Through a multi-year grant from the Marshall Home Fund of Watertown, MA, STEP has been able to further enhance and expand our comprehensive array of intensive support services to meet the changing needs of our individuals as they age.  Our elders are able to choose to “age in place,” with services and supports brought to them rather than placement into a nursing home or rehabilitation facility.

Funding from the Marshall Home Fund also helped support STEP’s Elder & Medical Resource Library located at our main office in Watertown.  This library is designed for use by parents, guardians, staff, clinicians and individuals served.  The library contains reference books on Design Thinking, Barrier-Free Design, Elder Resources and Medical Issues for Adults with Disabilities.
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