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Celebrating Independence As Our Nation Opens Up

Following this 4th of July celebration, our independence has never been more appreciated as we are beginning to move around our nation with more freedom and liberation from COVID-19 restrictions.  While the COVID-19 virus is still with us, researchers have estimated that around 70% to 85% of the country needs to have active immunity to stop COVID-19 from spreading through communities.  Fortunately, we are getting closer to that percentage every day.

And what does this mean for our I/DD community and the providers who care for this population?  Day programs are opening, families are being welcomed back to congregate homes and we all have a great desire to get out and get on with some summertime fun.  This reopening will require providers to more closely monitor and manage their consumer funds.

Consumers have money to spend, especially after the receipt of three stimulus payments, totaling on average $3,200.  Hopefully your agency has helped its consumers to put this money into an exempt account, such as a special needs pooled trust so that consumers can spend this at their own pace without impacting their benefits eligibility.  For now, prepare to get back into a more typical tempo with consumer activities.  Whether it is learning a new hobby, taking swimming lessons or simply a transport to the park, help those you care for to have a good summer.  We have some ideas for purchases that may help to improve outcomes for those in your care.

Travel Agencies

These travel agencies focus on individuals with special needs and/or those requiring a wheelchair.  We have direct experience with Special Vacations, Trips, and Hammer Travel and can recommend all three.  Many of the 2021 trips these agencies offer either are fully booked or booking up fast.  However, if you have a large enough group, they may accommodate a new trip or a customized experience.

  1. Hammer Travel – https://hammertravel.org/
  2. New Directions Travel – http://www.newdirectionstravel.org/
  3. Trips, Inc. Special Adventures – https://www.tripsinc.com/
  4. Special Vacations, Inc. – https://specialvacations.net/
  5. Exceptional Services, LLC – https://www.exceptionaltrips.com/
  6. Curb Free Travel – https://curbfreewithcorylee.com/
  7. Travel For All – https://travel-for-all.com/
  8. Wheelchair Escapes – https://wheelchairescapes.com/

Assistive Technology

  1. AbleNet: This company makes connected home and accessibility products.  They have a variety of wired and wireless switches, speech generating devices and toys.  Products here are geared towards teens and younger.  https://www.ablenetinc.com/
  2. AngelSense: Tracking solutions for kids, teens and adults.  Claim to have the only GPS tracker designed for individuals with special needs.  https://www.angelsense.com/
  3. APP2Speak: Speech therapy software targeted for people with stroke, brain injury and autism. https://app2speak.com/
  4. TalkToMeTehcnologies: Speech generating devices for variety of applications. https://www.talktometechnologies.com/
  5. Sensory App House: Digital art, hand eye coordination, photos, entertainment and relaxation products & apps. https://www.sensoryapphouse.com/
  6. Inclusive TLC: Special needs early learning/older learning apps, software and activities for iPads & tablets.  Virtual reality hardware and software as well.  https://www.inclusivetlc.com/a-z-listing

Miscellaneous Purchases

None of the below ideas fall into a particular category but we feel they are all worthy of your consideration.

Stewart School

Academics and pre-academics for individuals with special needs.  Curriculum can be customized as well.  For those that have funds to travel and stay there (and have the functionality to attend), this is a unique place.  Located in Frankfort, KY.  https://stewarthome.com/

Community Phone

One of the easiest and most convenient purchasing and billing processes that we have ever seen for smart phones and phone plans.  Individuals do not have to go to a store, submit ID and undergo a credit check.  Plans and phones can be purchased online and billing can be centralized through your organization or pooled trust.  https://communityphone.org/

Compression Clothing, Weighted Blankets, Lace-less Sneakers

When you are contemplating seasonal clothing purchases or bedding, keep in mind that compression clothing and weighted blankets may also have therapeutic effects.  Further, the lace-less sneaker concept from Nike is one of the more innovative products we have seen from that company for a long time.

Customized Therapies

Medicaid does not pay for all therapies that are useful to your individuals.  We have seen vast improvements in socialization, engagement and physical activity for beneficiaries engaged in swim lessons, music therapy and even weightlifting.

Enjoy this new period of independence and help your consumers to savor their summer and beyond!

If you require help setting up an exempt saving facility for your agency and consumers, such as a special needs pooled trust, please contact Tom Tirney at 215-672-1184, ext. #1 or tgtirney@ahgtrusts.com or Kim Goodwin at 215-672-1184, ext. #6 or kgoodwin@ahgtrusts.com.  Arlington Heritage Group is a trust administrator and has been working exclusively with human service providers for over 30 years.