Hillsdale Daily News Article
LifeSpan: Dedicated to the Service of Others
By, Lonnie Robinson, PhD
Every community has true community supporters who make a difference in the lives of others, and one such organization of supporters is “LifeSpan, A Community Service ” located at Suite C, 3203 Beck Road, Hillsdale. The Hillsdale branch of LifeSpan is "People in a Caring Community" or "PICC". They are a non-profit 501c3 service organization, which has been accredited by the “Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities,” known as “CARF since 2001.”
The LifeSpan mission is to “inspire people with or without disabilities to realize their highest potential.” The LifeSpan vision statement says, “We envision a community where every person lives a self-determined life within a culture of gentleness.”
LifeSpan, which started in Jackson County in 1972 , came to Hillsdale County during 2002. LifeSpan currently serves 65 Hillsdale County residents who live in a variety of living environments. LifeSpan provides a wide variety of support services, such as skill building, job coaching, training toward independent living, learning how to cook, learning how to clean house, how to do laundry, how to shop in stores, how to handle money, how to budget, how to be safe, and how to be a contributing community member, while also teaching how to overcome challenges.
LifeSpan supports the culture and ethnicity of each person, including honoring and supporting the beliefs of each throughout services. For instance recognizing cultural differences during the holiday seasons, choice of meal items, and flexing days of service to support cultural activities and events.
Executive Director Barb Freysinger, who started working for LifeSpan in 1982, emphasized that LifeSpan maintains “ongoing training” for the LifeSpan staff, the clients, and client caretakers. She stated that LifeSpan can be summed up as “people helping other people!”
The Hillsdale County PICC office offers “respite” services which involves a Hillsdale PICC employee coming to a client’s home so that caretakers can get away and perhaps go to a movie and dinner. This allows caretakers to take a breather from the continual stress of being a caretaker. Caretakers can also drop off their loved ones 13 years and older at the Hillsdale PICC location during the day which allows caretakers to do what they need to do elsewhere.
PICC Hillsdale has recently begun supporting families who have a loved one with autism. A new approach to helping people overcome the challenges of autism is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). LifeSpan is working with LifeWay's CMH, the bi-county mental health authority, to begin providing direct support in the family home up to 20 hours a week. A specially certified psychologist writes and monitors an ABA plan, which LifeSpan staff carry out. Simply put, ABA is breaking functional skills, such as activities surrounding play, self-help, language, social and communication skills, into small steps and taught to mastery, with the goal of working toward more advanced skills for eventual success in the classroom and/or day to day life.
LifeSpan clients in Hillsdale County are served in their homes which Director Freysinger said is the future service model for providing services to clients! By providing services in the client’s home, LifeSpan can help family members to build strong bonds with each other, as well as help family members to understand and help each other, which in turn helps keep families healthy.
Providing services at the client’s home and community , allows LifeSpan to help people throughout their lifetime in their own environment, instead of moving them to an artificial setting. Director Freysinger emphasized that LifeSpan uses gentleness, and not dictatorship, to accomplish the goals of the clients and their caretakers.
Director Freysinger related that major changes are being required by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) , by December 31, 2019, to give clients more independence and control over their lives. These changes will have a major impact regarding how nursing homes, group homes, workshops, day programs, farm communities, and other living environments assist clients to achieve their life's goals; as well as requiring significant changes within the person centered planning processes for treatment teams .
Hillsdale County LifeSpan supervisor Amy Owens , LLMSW summed up the Hillsdale County LifeSpan staff as “ truly caring” for the people they serve, by providing care beyond simply provision of services. Plus, it is very important that PICC Hillsdale clients reach their personal goals in work and independent living.
Supervisor Owens emphasized that PICC Hillsdale clients do reach their desired goals and that one client graduated from the PICC Hillsdale program last December and another will graduate within the near future. Graduating clients are given a graduation ceremony and a graduation party.
The Hillsdale and Jackson LifeSpan offices have frequent employment openings as well as openings for volunteers who want to serve others!
The Hillsdale LifeSpan office telephone number is 517-439-1471, and Hillsdale County LifeSpan Supervisor Amy Owens can answer your questions and assist you.