How do you make sure individuals are satisfied with their services?
Individuals receiving services participate in an annual quality of life survey. The survey provides the opportunity for people receiving services to evaluate all supports they receive. In addition, individuals have the chance to share ideas for changes in supports as well as any concerns they have. Family members of individuals receiving services are given the opportunity to participate in a satisfaction survey. As with the quality of life survey, the family satisfaction also provides families with the opportunity to share ideas related to supports. Contact information for supervisors is available for all family members/guardians of people receiving services to provide the opportunity to have open communication about supports being provided. Individuals receiving services have the opportunity to participate in person-centered planning. Specially trained facilitators assist individuals in crafting a plan of support that is uniquely tailored to the individual's interests.
When there is a conflict, how do you respond?
When the conflict is between two people receiving services they are encouraged to resolve the conflict on their own. If individuals are not able to resolve a conflict staff will work to help all involved parties resolve the conflict. When the conflict is between staff and a person(s) receiving services the Human Rights Officer and/or Human Rights Committee are available to all individuals receiving services. When needed the Human Resources and/or Quality Management Departments may become involved if the conflict involves a violation of Advocates' policies and procedures.
Do individuals with disabilities serve on your Board of Directors? Human Rights Committee? Other service provider groups?
Individuals receiving services participate in the Program Committee of the Board of Directors. A former service recipient serves on Advocates' Board of Directors. The Human Rights Committee membership includes individuals receiving services, a lawyer, a psychologist and a nurse. Anyone receiving services has the opportunity to participate in Human Rights Committee meetings as well as become a member. Individuals receiving services have the opportunity to become trainers for our direct care staff. Currently, individuals receiving services participate in human rights and person centered planning trainings. In addition, there are two people receiving services that have been hired to be part of our Clinical Integration Team. One of the goals of the Clinical Integration Team is to continue to identify opportunities for people receiving services from Advocates to be members of key teams and committees.
How is staff recruited? What kind of background checks do you conduct? How will I be included in selecting and evaluating the staff that work with me?
Staff are recruited through a variety of avenues, including employee referrals, online job postings (our website, craigslist.org, monster.com), local career fairs, relationships with area colleges and universities, and print advertising. Applicants are first screened through the Human Resources Department and then sent on to hiring managers for the interview process. Many programs utilize a panel interview process which includes the Program Manager, other staff members, and clients. If the applicant is recommended for hire, the Human Resources Department will conduct professional reference checks. Upon a conditional offer of employment a CORI check is conducted. Staff are not allowed to work unsupervised with clients until a satisfactory CORI check is completed.
How is staff trained to work with me? How will I be sure that they know how to support me to achieve my goals? Will I have an opportunity to help train the staff that works with me on what works best for me?
We offer extensive pre-employment and ongoing training opportunities for staff throughout the agency, including pre-employment orientation and training, human diversity workshops and documentation and paperwork trainings. In addition, a number of certification opportunities are also made available for staff (SOLVE, CPR, First Aid, MAP, etc.), as is the ability to attend industry conferences and seminars. Staff receive ongoing training to ensure that the services provided are the best they can be. Topics offered include Person-Centered Planning, Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP), Self-Advocacy and others to ensure that clients are actively involved in the development of goals and treatment planning. All new employees receive training in the Advocates Way, the clinical philosophy through which services are provided. This philosophy holds that the individual is the expert on his or her life, and should take the lead in decision-making and planning.
How long does staff tend to stay with you? Is there a lot of turnover or do staff stay for a long time?
Over the past few years our turnover rate has been around 20%. In an effort to retain our staff we have a number of retention initiatives in place, including opportunities for professional development, recognition programs, quality supervision, worker-centered orientation, and employee feedback.
Can I meet some of your staff?
Yes. If you are interested in receiving services and would like to meet one of our staff, please contact the appropriate person listed in our online directory, or contact us via email
How do you respond to complaints about how staff work with me or other people?
Under the direction of the Vice President of Quality/Risk Management and Workforce Development, Advocates has established a thorough process to investigate all complaints, serious and critical incidents, and other issues that may require corrective action. The Director of Strategic Operations oversees investigations and complaints, and investigators include senior clinical staff from all parts of the agency, including the Mental Health Residential Division, Day Supports, Developmental Disabilities Residential Division, and the Behavioral Health Division. Investigators work closely with the Director of Human Resources to coordinate any investigations that may involve employee disciplinary action.
How do you support people to maintain their relationships with family and friends? How will you help me to meet new people?
When individuals begin receiving services at Advocates they are encouraged and supported by staff to maintain current relationships and build new ones. Individuals receiving services are offered assistance from staff in communicating and visiting with whomever they would like. Staff assist individuals in scheduling and attending family activities. All individuals are encouraged and supported to be active members of their communities. Staff support individuals to identify and participate in community related areas of interest. Staff also assist individuals in scheduling and attending activities with friends in the community.
How do you support Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination?
Advocates staff are trained in person-centered planning principals, which guide the development and delivery of individual specific service plans. We have monthly meetings that are facilitated by an expert in Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination. These meetings are available to anyone receiving services from Advocates and other local Human Service Agencies. The Advocates' agency philosophy "The Advocates' Way," our mission statement and values, as well as each division's mission statement and values are based strongly on the principles of Self-Advocacy and Self-Determination.
How do you manage transportation to help people get where they need to go?
Our residential programs have vans assigned to each program site. Some individuals also use the Lift bus, public transportation and the Ride (if they meet the necessary criteria). Staff vehicles are available to support transportation needs.
How do you help people get and stay connected to their communities?
Advocates understands the importance of community membership as part of a balanced and full life. Individuals are given the opportunity to participate in community activities of their choosing. A questionnaire developed by Advocates Community Inclusion Initiative is given to individuals to help determine their interests and measures their ongoing satisfaction with community activities.
How will you support me to make contributions to my community?
"Making a Difference" is an Advocates initiative that creates volunteer opportunities for people receiving our services to give back to their communitities. Individuals participate in a variety of volunteer opportunities throughout their communities and have made a difference in the lives of community members throughout the MetroWest area. Some examples of volunteer sites are senior centers, nursing homes, animal shelters, environmental protection agencies and municipal parks. All individuals are encouraged and supported to give back to their community.
Will I be able to go out on my own to things I like or will I have to go with my housemates?
All individuals are encouraged and supported to participate in activities of value and interest to them. There are regular group activities scheduled at programs based on individuals' likes and interests. Activities are also scheduled with individuals independently allowing for personal interests and 1:1 time. There may be times when scheduling conflicts occur. For example, if several people want to do different activities at the same time. In these situations, every effort is made to honor every request in a fair and equitable way.
How will you support me to have the best health possible?
Advocates is committed to supporting individuals in experiencing and maintaining the best possible health. As needed, staff assist individuals in scheduling routine and specialized health care appointments as well as routine screenings. Advocates employs a team of RNs who train direct care staff, advocate for individuals' medical needs and review and monitor complex or acute medical events.
Staff assist individuals in maintaining an open and informative dialog with all health care providers. Our self-produced short film titled Going to The Doctor educates direct care staff, health care providers and individuals in the skills necessary to ensure a positive, constructive relationship with healtcare providers
Staff work with individuals to inform guardians and involved family members (where appropriate and with permission) of all medical appointments and related treatment information and recommendations.
Advocates has a Health and Wellness Team to provide ideas, resources and encouragement related to good health. Examples include recreational activities, pros and cons of the use of psychiatric medications and information about nutrition. There is a nutritionist available to consult with all programs for healthy meal planning. She is also available to consult on an individual basis. In addition, she is an expert in helping individuals and programs in healthy meal planning/grocery and in educating individuals and staff about proper nutrition.
How do you handle health emergencies?
If an individual is experiencing a health emergency they are immediately transported to the local ER for evaluation. If the situation does not clearly require emergency transportation, staff consult with the individual's Primary Care Physician for recommendations and appointments. In addition, there is a Registered Nurse (Director of Health Care) and Medical Doctor (Medical Director) available for consultation with staff. All staff are trained in CPR and First Aid.
How do you handle other kinds of emergencies?
Each program has a specific emergency plan to address other emergency situations such as fire, natural disasters, need for relocation. Psychiatric Emergency Services is part of Advocates' Behavioral Health Division and is available as a resource to provide support for psychiatric emergencies.
How do you make sure that people are safe and that they are protected from harm while still affording them opportunities to take chances?
All staff are trained in Human Rights and DPPC (Disabled Persons Protection Commission) reporting procedures. Each home has at least one Human Rights Officer and Advocates has a Human Rights Committee that reviews all Human Rights related issues.
Advocates values the dignity in risk. We support individuals in all decisions they make about their lives including decisions that involve risk. Staff work to make sure reasonable safe guards are put in place to support success and ensure safety for individuals at all times.
All staff are SOLVE (Strategies of Limiting Violent Episodes) trained. This is a crisis intervention training for safe management of emergency situations involving individuals posing risk of harm to themselves or others.
Individuals are encouraged to develop relationships they want, participate in activities of interest and have personal possessions of their own choosing. When these relationships, activities and/or possessions appear to pose a risk of harm, staff work with the individual, guardian (if a guardian is in place) and family (with the individual's permission) to educate the individual of the risk involved and potential consequences.
| Advocates Inc., One Clarks Hill, Suite 305, Framingham, MA 01702
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Supporting you, your loved ones, your friends, Your neighbors...
Advocates provides support services for people with:
- Mental illness or co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse
- Intellectual or developmental disabilities or co-occurring mental illness and developmental disability
- Prader-Willi Syndrome
- Autism and pervasive developmental disabilities
- Acquired or traumatic brain injury
We also provide support services for:
- Deaf adults with mental illness or a developmental disability
- Families who are supporting a family member with a disability
- Elders living in the community who may have a mental illness or substance abuse disorder
- Adults with a mental health diagnosis in jail or re-entering the community
- Youth in transition from foster care
- Individuals and families who are homeless or at risk for homelessness