Rural Community Concept
The Rural Community Concept is a facilitated community setting situated on 80 acres of farm and forested land in North Central Wisconsin. The community is a series of two-bedroom duplexes available for individuals to rent, a farm house, greenhouse, barn and shed. This program focuses on a holistic approach to community living by offering rental housing, vocational training opportunities and social interaction.
Support services are tailored specifically to the outcomes of each individual. The supports are available 24 hours a day as needed by the individual. Individuals both go into the community and invite community members to come in and join or learn from their experiences.
This program is designed to create an alternative for people often limited to supports of 1:1 or greater staff coverage and who have limited to no meaningful work opportunities or community access through traditional programs. This programming concept allows greater independence by reducing staff presence to an “as needed” basis and creates vocational options for those who once were isolated from communities by intensive staff coverage.
Philosophy and Results
The Rural Community Concept creates a unique opportunity for individuals who have had limited self-direction opportunities due to intensive staff supervision and little or no opportunity to obtain meaningful work. Some individuals living at the Rural Community Concept have transitioned from 1:1 (or greater) 24-hour staffed environments where choice is significantly limited and work is essentially unobtainable to the Rural Community Concept where choice drives staff supports and work opportunities are available 24 hours a day.
Allowing people to self-direct their supports and have the choice of participating in a broad spectrum of meaningful vocational opportunities, including customized self-employment opportunities, has significantly reduced those behaviors that created the need for the intensive staff supervision in alternative living and work arrangement settings.
Time and time again, individuals supported at this program rise to the occasion, recognizing their opportunities at the Rural Community Concept are limited only by their own commitment and efforts. With each small success, individuals become more motivated to try new things and more determined to find ways to succeed in each new endeavor.
The experience of implementing and growing this program, like many other Innovative Services programs, reminds us that the true limitation to the individuals we support is not their disabilities but our ability to create and offer supports that can be self-directed and ultimately provide meaning to an individual’s day.
Community Integration and Vocational Services
As a part of their supports, individuals have numerous opportunities to go into the community, whether alone or as part of a larger group. These targeted opportunities to access and participate in the community range from task-related activities such as shopping for supplies or selling produce, to outings such as bowling, fishing or any variety of individual or group activities. Recognizing the desire of individuals to be citizens of their communities, Innovative Services helps to facilitate and support these interactions. Individuals identify at what level and in what ways they prefer to participate within their community and carve out their unique identities. Innovative Services supports adjust to match. Ideally these staffed supports begin to blend with natural supports.
In addition to community integration supports, vocational services are also sought by individuals living at the RCC. Vocational supports are tailored to meet the skills, abilities and interests of each person receiving services. Vocational training and employment offered at the RCC includes, but is not limited to, agricultural and greenhouse opportunities, vermicomposting, animal care, landscaping and lawn care, woodworking, cleaning and customer service. Vocational opportunities are available on and off site. Employment goals are specifically customized and developed by each individual with the assistance of his or her support team. It remains the objective of the RCC to provide a variety of work opportunities to individuals who optimize vocational success.