The Arbetter family, pictured with their nurse Mulouse Volmar, was one of the families visited by DPH reviewers. Left to right are: Karen Arbetter, Joshua Arbetter, Mulouse Volmar, Dr. Jeffrey Arbetter, and Emily Arbetter

Northeast Arc recently completed two successful licensing and accreditation reviews by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Office of Quality Enhancement (OQE) in the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS). The reviews covered Northeast Arc’s clinical services, residential, and community employment divisions. In addition to receiving high marks, Northeast Arc programs were given special commendations in several areas.

Northeast Arc’s Clinical Services team successfully completed their Department of Public Health accreditation survey during a multi-day review. DPH inspects home care agencies every three years to ensure compliance with regulations and evaluate patient care quality.

Agencies are not given a heads up on when this rigorous survey will be conducted. Surveyors arrive unannounced and spend several days interviewing staff, reviewing records, policies, and procedures, and visiting with patients. Among the patients they visited was the Arbetter family, pictured below.

After an extensive inspection, state officials found no deficiencies and commented on the staff’s professional excellence.

During the separate OQE review, Northeast Arc’s residential, individual home support, community-based day supports, and supported employment programs earned positive licensing outcomes in all critical indicators reviewed and met the standards set forth by DDS.  These positive outcomes resulted in a two-year licensing and certification. Reviewers identified several positive and innovative practices by Northeast Arc employees, including:

  • Although not required, individuals supported within the agency’s shared living program benefited from the agency practice of following DPH Medication Administration Program (MAP) standards, which ensured medications were administered as prescribed.
  • Individuals in all settings were found to be treated with respect and their choices valued as evidenced by staff knowledge and utilization of each person’s favorite clothing options and colors. Within the ABI program, staff adjusted their stance when communicating with individuals using wheelchairs so as to be at eye level with them, and exhibiting patience when individuals used communication devices to convey their thoughts and needs.
  • Staff in residential, day programs, and supported employment used assistive technology assessments to match individuals with technology aimed at maximizing independence. One individual was provided a modified television remote that allowed for independent use of the television, while another utilized a communication device controlled by his ear. Several individuals used the Alexa voice command device, allowing them to listen to music or gain further knowledge in a myriad of areas without needing staff to assist them.  One individual used an iPad to organize his schedule and have visual phone calls with family members; another individual was supported to obtain books on tape from the Library of Congress.  The use of these devices not only allowed individuals to explore and interact with the world around them, but to do it as independently as possible. In supported employment, one individual benefited from the use of a Life Sherpa Remote Support phone application that afforded him increased privacy and independence by remotely accessing employment supports from staff in real time.
  • The agency’s career planning process was found to be comprehensive and dynamic, with current support needs clearly defined and continually updated as individuals achieved stated goals.

“DPH and OQE’s surveys are very important measures of Northeast Arc’s services, and the positive outcomes of these surveys speak to our organization’s strong commitment to providing quality services,” said Barbara Glendinning, Chief Quality Improvement Officer. “Congratulations to all Northeast Arc clinical, residential, and day and employment staff, as the high quality of our services is directly attributable to the hard work and dedication of each one of you!”

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