About the team
DDSOO REGION: 3
DSP Team Name: Team 9
Worksite: Various Capital District locations
Number of Members: 70
Nominated by: Dr. Jacqueline Johnson, Licensed Psychologist
Why was this team selected for this DSP honor?
Region 3 Capital District DDSOO Team 9 consists of 70 employees encompassing a range of administrative, treatment and direct support roles who come together to implement a range of services for adults with developmental disabilities who reside in homes in Northern Saratoga and Southern Washington counties.
According to Dr. Jacqueline Johnson, who nominated the team, the staff members deserve recognition for the solid cohesiveness they build toward an unwavering vision to uphold the autonomy, voice, choice and quality of life for every adult residing in a home.
“Team 9 adapts quickly to change while maintaining core principals to uphold individual rights, safety and wellness,” Johnson says. “The members of Team 9 warm-heartedly and confidently address day-to-day challenges even when exhausted or dispirited. They uplift one another when their spirits dip and they applaud each other when no praise is ever sought. This nomination is to recognize Team 9 for the skill, respect and compassion they demonstrate.”
What sets this team apart from others?
Nearly half of Team 9 have greater than a decade of service at OPWDD. A quarter of the team has two decades of service, and there are nearly a dozen team members that approach three decades of service at OPWDD. The Treatment Team Leader has achieved 31 years of service.
“Their combined skills and experience make Team 9 a reliable, consistent and impactful group who share their wisdom and knowledge readily with one another and within Capital DDSOO,” adds Johnson.
What specifically has this team done to support OPWDD’s mission of helping people with developmental disabilities live richer lives?
A man who has lived 121 miles away from his aging mother and siblings, experienced a multitude of medical concerns over a period of three years because of adult-onset seizures and malignant neoplasm of his brain. Recovery for him was fraught with unpredictability and changes in ambulation as well as a level of independence that he cherished. He often engaged in virtual visits with his mother, but it did not replace the warmth and nurturance of face-to-face contact.
“When this gentleman moved to Team 9, he immediately experienced a welcoming and respectful honoring of his recovery process,” Johnson explains. “Team 9 went out of its way to orchestrate a surprise family reunion on his 41st birthday The dose of human medicine that only kinship bonds can provide was actualized through Team 9’s efforts. The magnitude of joy witnessed when the family came together is what Team 9 strives to achieve for all the adults they support. Despite the difficulties with coordination of staff and the balancing of diverse needs of each person also residing in the home, Team 9 sought and achieved a healing balm for this man.”
Another example of the collective efforts of Team 9 is how often they continue to prioritize community integration and engagement for people who reside in homes.
“Like many other teams at Capital DDSOO and other DDSOO regions, Team 9 experiences the fatigue of staff shortages and the imbalances it produces on their personal lives. Yet, Team 9 members do not forgo opportunities to incorporate events, activities and local functions to promote a sense of belonging for the individuals they support,” Johnson says.
Finally, she says, Team 9 members’ fortitude is beyond average. A man who lives in one of the homes has shown signs of worsening neurophysiological functioning without a clear source for the symptoms over the past two years. Members of Team 9 have not only provided routine care with steady monitoring of his health status, but they have also aggressively advocated for a comprehensive evaluation to get at the root cause of concern. This gentleman is now slated to be seen by a specialist in the coming month.
“Advocacy can become challenging when working with non-verbal adults. However, Team 9 members learn the small gestures, postures and other non-verbal ways that adults with I/DD communicate to express preferences, symptoms of unwellness and subtle emotions that tell their story,” says Johnson.
“I would like to express my appreciation to each member of Team 9 for their dedication to those we serve,” says Helen Matz, Director of the Region 3 DDSOOs. “You have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to our shared mission resulting in a better life for those in our care. You are truly an extraordinary team and it is an honor to work with you.”