SEKRS: A good idea since 1990

May 8, 2017

Southeast Kansas Respite Services, Inc. (SEKRS) has provided families in southeast Kansas with respite or a break in the care of their family member of any age with any disability or health condition for more than 25 years. In collaboration with area developmental disability agencies and mental health centers, the KU program at Parsons answered a need voiced by families for their loved ones that require around the clock care. The Respite goal began as and continues to give families and individuals who provide the daily care, peace of mind because the respite provider in their home has been screened, trained, and has experience providing care. The program was immediately successful as an effective and cost efficient means of helping area families support their loved ones at home. Dr. David Lindeman, Director, LSI/Parsons, said, “The programs provided by the University of Kansas in collaboration with SEKRS and our community partners are a valuable resource to southeast Kansas and provide vital supports to children, families, and individuals with disabilities.”

In FY 2016, in-home services were provided to 140 families by 132 care providers for a total of 35,797 hours. Families are surveyed yearly for their evaluation of services and the responses continue to be positive and enthusiastically “thumbs up!” “I just want to say that this service has been a tremendous blessing to our family. The care providers are wonderful. My daughter likes them and is always pleased to know one of them is coming.” “No one can imagine just how much we care when someone, somewhere offers a helping hand.”

As one might imagine, a program with a successful history of service finds other ways to serve their customers. In 2011, SEKRS was named Business of the Year by Tri-Valley Developmental Services at their Annual Awards Ceremony. Each year, a southeast Kansas business is chosen to receive this coveted award. Diane Salyers, SEKRS project manager, says that the key to the 2011 award was the Representative Payee Program that is managed by SEKRS and provides payee services for individuals who cannot manage their finances. The Program receives the payee’s Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment and uses those funds to pay for current and foreseeable needs of the beneficiary (e.g. rent, transportation, clothing, food, recreation, etc.). Additionally, the program works to inform and support the person in learning to manage their funds with the goal of the person participating in or making informed decisions regarding the use and management of their money. Salyers continues, “The Representative Payee Program began in 2005, and by 2006 we had 38 customers. Currently (2016), the program serves more than 165 customers, handling more than $1,750,500. Laura Doyle-Colvin has been the driving force in the success of the program and Beverly Schaich, who came on board in 2014, continue the program’s excellent reputation for exemplary customer service.”

Families sometimes need more supports and SEKRS has broadened its commitment to include Personal Care Services, previously known as Supportive Home Care Services, which includes services that provide direct assistance to waiver recipients in daily living and personal adjustment, attendant care, assistance with medications that are ordinarily self-administered and accessing medical care, supervision, reporting changes in the recipients condition and needs, extension of therapy services, ambulation and exercise, household services essential to health care at home or performed in conjunction with assistance in daily living (e.g., shopping, meal preparation, cleanup after meals, bathing, using appliances, dressing, feeding, bed-making, laundry, and cleaning the bathroom and kitchen), and household maintenance related to the recipient. The Personal Care Services worker can accompany or transport the recipient to accomplish any of the tasks listed to provide essential supervision or support for community activities.

The final program that comprises the SEKRS cadre of services is CRSS, Coordinated Resource and Support Services (Cooperative Project on Dual Diagnosis of Persons with Disabilities) first funded in 1989. This project is designed to support individuals with a dual diagnosis of intellectual disabilities and mental illness in their community and prevent hospital or institutional admission. Crisis intervention and needed follow-up services, such as respite care or attendant care for the individual and/or family are provided. Patti Blake coordinates CRSS and provides information on available community resources enabling individuals to identify and access necessary resources in their home community.

In FY 2016, CRSS services involved 34 individuals from the 9 counties served. Participating agencies include CLASS, LTD, Columbus; New Beginnings, Independence; Tri-County, Inc., of Osawatomie; Tri-Valley Developmental Services, Chanute; Crawford County Mental Health, Pittsburg; Family Life Center, Columbus; Four-County Mental Health, Independence; Labette Center for Mental Health Services, Parsons; S.E. Kansas Mental Health, Humboldt; Osawatomie State Hospital; Parsons State Hospital and Training Center.

Program referrals and support come from: Area Agency on Aging, CLASS Ltd., Tri-Valley Developmental Services, Four County Mental Health, Labette Center for Mental Health, Crawford County Mental Health, The United Way of Bourbon County, Southwest Missouri United Way, Southeast Kansas United Way, and Independence Community Chest.

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