Remote services through Opportunity Partners offer engagement, experiences, more benefits

Courtesy of Opportunity Partners

When day services at all Opportunity Partners locations were suspended by the state from March to July 2020 due to the pandemic, the impact was felt by hundreds of adults with disabilities who rely on OP for activities, engagement and employment.

When it became clear that restrictions on day services were going to continue for some time, OP pivoted to offer remote services to interested individuals, discovering a significant need for this type of connection. From the start, participants were thrilled to see familiar staff and friends again, and support teams expressed relief that remote services were an option during such a difficult and isolating time.

Even when day services began to reopen with limited capacity in July, a number of individuals and families chose to continue with remote services due to underlying health conditions or preferences in remaining at home. Others have chosen a blend of in-person and remote services.

One family member described the isolation and loneliness her brother Brian felt because he was home all day. When they learned of OP’s remote services, they felt it would help provide the mental and social stimulation needed. Now Brian connects virtually with staff and peers at OP Monday through Friday. They learn about current events, animals and cultures. The group plays games and does crafts online, watches movies together, and even “travels” to the pyramids of Egypt and other sites around the globe. Brian’s sister says it’s been a fabulous experience for him. “His mood is lighter now. Reuniting with OP has brought back his sense of humor! He just loves it.”

Remote services at OP include 1:1 meetings, group classes and “social hours” – all aimed at enhancing engagement, exploring new interests, meeting new people, sharing hobbies and pets, and much more. Topics are kept light and fresh, including holiday-themed contests and costume days.

Not only have remote services been a time for people to connect socially, but OP has seen a lot of growth in independence among some participants who did not have a lot of experience with technology. Individuals are learning valuable skills and mastering new technology, including navigating email and getting onto Zoom independently.

In November 2020, more than 70 individuals were taking part in remote services at OP, which will likely remain, even after the pandemic restrictions are lifted.