Day Supports Program is a Day Brightener!

Day Supports Program is a Day Brightener!

New program fills unused space in East office

In a nutshell, there have been many changes to external day programs, staffing within our homes, and our ability as an organization to provide community engagement due to the staffing changes post pandemic. These left many of our individuals home or “retired” from their previous day programs. They spent a lot more time at home and lost out on opportunities to engage with peers, get out and into the community, and participate in activities that are physically and mentally stimulating. Simply put, many needed a reason to get up in the morning.

With some cleaning, re-organizing, and decorating, the lower-level area of our Eastside office space, which was historically used by Northeast Residence (NER), was turned into an extended day supports space. We used some of our quality-of-life funds for purchasing new items along with funding from our community life budget. Donna Beldon, one of the individuals who attends the day supports program, purchased a few items for herself and her peers such as a new coffee pot, coffee, and some snack items. We were excited to officially start the East Day Supports Program on April 1!

Lead DSP Wade Hartmann with Donna

Lovingly re- named “The Club” by Donna Belden (who attends each day), the day supports program operates Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. We currently support 12 people from Hammer & NER’s Eastside homes. Each person is supported at The Club by one of their staff.

Some of the folks attending still attend day programs outside the organization part-time and they utilize this program to fill in the gaps. Others have been “retired” from their previous day programs and come to The Club for socializing, relationship building, crafting, and community outings. These activities help increase the quality of life throughout the aging process.

Day Supports Program attendees and staff

I am honored to manage The Club with the support of two Lead DSPs from our East homes, Lynette Vickerman and Wade Hartmann, DSP Victorine Mukemfor, and Lindsey Kvern, Hammer & NER’s Community Life Coordinator. We create and plan weekly activities at The Club which typically consist of community outings such as the Minnesota Zoo, the Science Museum of Minnesota, bowling at Flaherty’s, the movie theatre in Oakdale, and the Sustainable Safari. We also do a day of cooking and incorporate outdoor activities daily depending on weather, such as basketball, bean bags, sidewalk chalk art, tending to the garden we created, going for walks, and enjoying the sunshine. We have gotten our hands messy with a lot of different crafting and art projects; we have painted on canvas, utilized clay as a medium to create, recycled old CDs to create wall art around our TV, made individual name signs for everyone to hang at home, wind chimes, sensory bottles, and clothespin wreaths. We get creative with indoor large motor activities when the weather is not cooperative. We have created a miniature golf course and practiced our putting, we play cornhole indoors, and a large-scale version of pong.

Enjoying an outing to the Omni Theatre at the MN Science Museum

Our “big picture” goal is to encourage engagement. We use fun activities that focus on improving gross and fine motor skills, soft skills such as teamwork, problem solving and creativity, decision-making and motivation, and hard skills such as personal cares, mobility, and utilizing technology.

Because of the dedicated and resilient staff team we have put together and the positive attitudes and generosity from those we support, we have created an environment that each of us is motivated to come to every morning. Each person gives selflessly to their peers with encouraging words and helpful hands and look forward to coming back the next day. We have created a culture that we as a team are extremely proud of.

Stay tuned for more as this program grows!

Megan Pierce is a Recreational Specialist with Hammer & NER’s Community Life program.

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