Monthly Archives: April 2019

The good we do beyond the good we set out to do

Somewhere along the line I came up with the phrase “the good we do beyond the good we set out to do.”

While that almost makes that “secondary good” seem unintentional, it’s not. “Doing good”—that is, having a positive impact on society beyond direct service to people in need—is a special and significant responsibility of nonprofit organizations, particularly in lieu of certain taxes. Doing good beyond what we set out to do through our service programs and senior living communities is something of which we are very proud.

That positive impact is called community benefit.

We began calculating Diakon’s community benefit for the first time six years ago and are now readying our sixth community benefit report, this time for 2018. Typically, Diakon’s community benefit amounts to approximately $20 million.

Community benefit is quite different from annual reporting. We don’t count people served or provide financial summaries of what we spent during the prior year. Rather, we look at such factors as offering free meeting space to community groups, providing mentoring or other support to students in the health care or social services fields, donations of unused medication to help people in need and support groups we offer the public free.

Community benefit also includes the subsidized service we provide, so that we can help many people with limited financial resources.

Part of me dreads this time of year because, based on national guidelines, calculating community benefit can be, well, math-intensive.

In the case of free meeting space, for example, I have to know the cost-per-square-foot-for-maintenance of a Diakon facility, the size of the room in which an outside group held its free meetings and how many hours the group was there during the year!

You get the picture. It’s calculator time.

But another part of me truly enjoys the effort, calculations and all, because doing so underscores the amazing impact we have on society—the good we do beyond the good we set out to do!

You can view our 2018 Community Benefit Report by clicking here.

 By William Swanger, MA, APR
Senior Vice President
Corporate Communications & Public Relations

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Five ways rehabilitation promotes independence

Everyone wants to be independent.

That’s true no matter your age.

But it can be especially important when you face the physical challenges that sometimes accompany aging.

In fact, one of the most common desires among older adults is to remain as independent as possible, as long as possible.

While many people achieve this goal by staying healthy, sometimes accidents or unforeseen illnesses can threaten independent vitality.

When a physical injury limits your mobility, or an illness disrupts daily life, taking advantage of rehabilitation services can help you to get back on your feet and remain independent much longer.

Rehabilitation services at Diakon Senior Living Services cover a variety of therapies and meet the needs of adults in less-than-their-best health. In fact, many seniors turn to rehab following a hospital stay if they’re not yet able to return home. Others seek outpatient rehab to continue therapy after an injury or surgery.

Whether physical, occupational or speech therapy, such programs can help you to regain optimal abilities and well-being.

If you face an illness or injury with the risk of loss of independence, rehabilitation can help you maintain independence longer and to the extent possible.

1.    Allows you to maintain your daily routine. Recovery can be a long road for older adults, but rehabilitation can help you get back on your feet—and back to your regular lifestyle—much faster. Those who opt out of rehab or therapy might not heal as quickly or suffer from subsequent injuries, making it harder to maintain a daily routine. For example, if a shoulder injury doesn’t heal correctly, you may always need help lifting heavy loads or reaching above your head. Rehabilitation services can help you to meet your goals for continuing your normal way of life.

Click here to read more about what rehab can do!

Are you ready to foster or adopt?

Diakon Adoption & Foster Care staff members work diligently each day to recruit and support resource families, along with the children and youths referred to us by county agencies.

These staff members are knowledgeable and experienced in knowing what works, what doesn’t and how to try to make the transition into foster care or adoption as smooth as possible.

If adoption or foster care is something you think you may be interested in, here’s some honest advice from our staff members.

What skills or qualities do you believe are important for resource families to have?

Flexibility, compassion and patience were the responses that almost every staff member mentioned. They also said it’s important to have a sense of humor, realistic expectations, good communication skills, reliability, awareness of biases and a willingness to be challenged.

Attentiveness, the willingness to work as a team, to support the child through any loss or grief, and the capability to show unconditional love were also suggested.

One staff member specifically said it’s essential to have the ability to act in a non-judgmental way toward the child’s birth family and the circumstances that prompted out-of-home placement. Additionally, understanding how to deal with behaviors the child may exhibit because of past traumas is helpful.

What are some unexpected issues?

• Some children do not wonder much about their story when placed or adopted, but begin to ask questions as they get older.
• Children and youths aren’t typically “grateful” they’re in foster care.
• The level of grief that children feel about the loss of their birth family can come as a surprise, and it may take time to make reconnections.
• Negotiating relationships with various members of the child’s birth family.
• Families can be surprised by the number of appointments children have that can arise from a routine physical or dental exam.
• Transportation requirements for medical appointments, visitations, therapy and/or daycare, if applicable, are sometimes overwhelming at first.

Our adoption and foster care staff help to overcome such challenges!

Our staff members will help to put the proper services in place, including therapy, medication management, and so on.

In fact, they note, “we assist resource families with ideas on how to show a child not comfortable with affection how to receive it. We also help resource parents to understand the reasons behind negative behaviors without taking the behavior personally. We help families realize that their desire to have a family and their excitement over a placement occur just as the child is losing everything.

“A big challenge we help resource parents to overcome is their fear of the legal-risk component; most families worry they can’t do foster care or legal-risk placements because they worry about the pain or hurt they, resource parents, will feel. We help to encourage them that it’s less about the hurt/pain/loss that they might feel if a child leaves rather than the hurt/pain/loss the child might experience without their family stepping in to help!”

Staff members encourage building a positive relationship with a child’s biological family, by having a more engaging attitude toward the birth family both verbally and nonverbally.

“We provide an outlet for resource families to vent and talk about their frustrations, feelings and questions at any time and in any place in a case,” they say. “We offer advice such as picking your battles—often, it’s more about encouragement, encouragement and encouragement! And we have a variety of post-permanency services and support groups available. Our resource families never have to feel as if they are alone on their journey!”

If you are looking for more information about becoming a resource parent or to attend an information session, please click here.

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