We Have Adapted
As St. Louis City and County began to implement social distancing measures and issued stay-at-home orders, the St. Louis Arc had to adapt quickly. Like many organizations, the Arc had to make difficult and immediate decisions to cancel and postpone programs. However, despite a global pandemic, the supports the Arc provides to over 4,000 individuals and families could not simply stop.
In mid-March, the Arc stopped providing in-person supports to the majority of its programs. For the safety of all, Children’s Services could no longer enter homes and schools to provide therapy and support. Job Coaches could no longer provide side-by-side job training and coaching on job sites. Due to social distancing orders, programs from sports leagues and educational classes to the day program and supported independent living had to cancel. Residential programs were the only service the Arc could continue. To ensure the safety of residents and staff, there was an urgent need to implement additional health and safety protocols.
Within two short weeks, all of the Arc’s programs had adapted to a virtual support model, but not without identifying significant challenges. Stress and anxiety are on the rise. Access to technology is limited. Food insecurity is increasing. Attention spans are low. Families are overwhelmed.
Understanding the challenges families and participants are facing, Arc staff have adjusted the supports being offered. Wellness and Safety meetings are the norm across most programs, and the frequency of meetings and support has increased. The goal of many of the Arc’s virtual supports is to make sure everyone is safe, encourage engagement and social interaction, encourage participants to learn new skills, provide support, and keep spirits high.
In the upcoming weeks, we will highlight the specific ways our programs have adapted to providing support during a pandemic. If you or a family member is struggling during this time or would like to find a way to get connected with one of the Arc’s virtual supports, please contact our Family Support team. For those who want to contribute to the Arc’s programs and services, we encourage you to donate or view the agency’s wish list.
We are grateful to our staff who are committed to providing quality supports – even during a pandemic. We look forward to seeing everyone in person in the future, but for now, stay safe and connected.