This was a year of transformation, so that our services we provide are compliant with the new HCBS rules. A consultant from the Office of Disability Employment policy assisted with this transition from being a facility-based program to a community-based program. HCBS surveyors visited Horizons to see if we are meeting the HCBS new rules for the community life engagement program and job development. We were found to be compliant with all the new rules, and did not have to submit any plans of correction.
Our community life engagement program is held totally in the community. This program is no longer facility-based, but is completely community-based. Members go out in small groups to participate in integrated activities, volunteer work, and career discovery.
Job development has grown. With the sheltered workshop closed, many members have wanted jobs in the community. This year, we have 45 jobs for members working in the community. This is an increase of 30 jobs over the last year and a half. Some have opted to retire, and some have decided to pursue goals other than a job.
The residential department continues to provide daily and hourly services to members. We currently have one open bed at the Pleasant House group home.
We are pleased to say that we are now fully staffed. Training is provided to managers to make them more effective in their job, which helps retain our employees. We also raised our starting wage this year.
We are finding that the members are very happy with the community life engagement program, and behavioral incident reports have declined dramatically. The job development staff continues to work with our members to find them jobs in the community and support employed members with job coaching services.
The ODEP consultant praised Horizons Unlimited for implementing the necessary changes, and stated that Horizons was a premier agency in the state of Iowa. We will continue to look at the quality of our program, and make changes when necessary. We were used as an example in this transformation in a recent federal publication. The HCBS new rules have been an asset to our agency, and are helping us thrive.