Change is not easy for anyone, but anything is possible if you have a great team, like Julie does! Julie, a woman with a developmental disability and is non-verbal, and her family were faced with an important decision. When they found out Summit DD would be transitioning out of services because of a federal mandate, they needed to find a new provider.
“When we first found out Summit DD would be closing Ellet Center, we were like ‘What are we going to do? This was perfect, it was right around the corner from our house, and we will never find anything this good again,’” Julie’s Mom, Anne LaPuh, recalled. “But then we sat down with the team and figured out the next steps.”
The team, built of Julie’s family, her Summit DD Service and Support Administrator (SSA) Michelle Stiles and Summit DD Navigator Kim Bauer, put together a transition plan for Julie, so she could have a smooth and successful transition.
“Julie has high medical needs and some health concerns, but honestly I wasn’t nervous for Julie to transition here (Hattie Larlham Constant Companions in North Canton),” Anne shared. “When we visited here and met the staff, I knew this would be the right fit for Julie. We feel so welcome and everything just blended so nicely.”
Julie slowly transitioned to Constant Companions, taking about four months to be full-time at her new day program provider. This gradual process was not only to ensure Julie would be comfortable with the staff and the new location, but also spend some time with her friends at Ellet Center before she left. Julie’s Summit DD Navigator also helped the first day to show staff at Constant Companions the best way to support Julie throughout the day with the different needs that she has.
“I have to say, this was one of the easiest transitions, and that has a lot to do with this being the perfect example of the team process,” Michelle expressed. “We all worked together and came together to support this for Julie.”
Ed LaPuh, Julie’s Dad, added that it’s been a success because everyone on the team is on the same page.
Julie’s lovable and sweet personality has helped her ease into her new program as well. She participates in engaging activities with her peers and staff at the day program as well as in the community.
Since late 2015, almost 300 people have transitioned from Summit DD operated services to new opportunities of their choice, including 36 different day programs from a variety of private providers throughout the community. This is close to 70% of the people who were being served by Summit DD.
To help the transition process, Summit DD planed several informational meetings for families impacted by the transition, created supports for families and providers, such as staff members dedicated to helping families tour facilities and explore options in the community, and remained open, transparent and committed to finding the best fit for every person and family supported by the Agency.
“I just think with any transition or with any concern, the goal is that you don’t want a family or an individual to feel alone,” Michelle explained. “Even though Summit DD is experiencing all of these changes, we aren’t going away and SSAs are not going away. We will be here through the transition and we are here to help coordinate and make it all work.”
“Michelle is my go to,” Anne expressed with a smile. “I know I can go to her and she will be there to help us along the way and solve any problems we have. Whenever I call her, she has time, and she is very concerned about Julie. She is just so good with us.”
The staff at Hattie Larlham agreed, sharing that it has been easy working with Summit DD and the SSAs during this transition, especially when people and families go through the process of choosing a new provider in the community.
“Summit DD has been fabulous,” Stacy Timm, Hattie Larlham Constant Companions Program Director, shared about the recent transition. She added that Summit DD has provided helpful information about the people who choose Hattie Larlham as their new provider. “We are so appreciative of Summit DD and all the work they do.”
Constant Companions is a perfect fit for Julie. She is thriving and her cheery smile lets everyone know that she is happy, enjoys the company of her new friends and loves the staff.
“One of the things I enjoy too is being a part of the success. I think it’s so fulfilling to see everyone happy and to know the family is happy,” Michelle beamed with pride. “That’s one of the best parts of my job.”
Interested in more? Read other success stories, like Julie’s, on our My Story page!