Clearbrook: 2005 – 2006

A Clearbrook client and ACES participant, tosses colorful balls into a barrel while a volunteer helps her to count them as they go in.

Washington Square Health Foundation awarded a research grant to Clearbrook, a human service agency that is committed to being a leader in creating innovative opportunities, services, and support for people with developmental disabilities (DD). Part of Clearbrook’s present focus is responding to an increasing number of aging clients. Dementia and Alzheimer’s are two age-related diseases that must be considered when planning for the care of older persons. This is a relatively new concern in the world of DD as life expectancies for this population have only recently increased. This is of particular concern within the 24 hour supervised group homes (CILAs). Currently, Clearbrook is home to 194 adults with DD that are age 40 and older.

The Washington Square Health Foundation’s grant funded a research study by an expert in gerontology, Kathleen Pietschmann, ND, Geriatric Nurse Practitioner, to assess the ability of Clearbrook and, by inference, other similar agencies to address the needs of aging DD clients. While the conclusion of the study determined that the care requirements of aging persons with DD is consistent with that of the general aging population, it gave insight into the additional responsibilities of Clearbrook and other similar human service agencies to add significant resources to serve their population as it ages. Specifically, Clearbrook and other similar human service agencies will need to make adjustments in the following three areas: 1) physical/environmental allocations such as chair lifts and increased lighting; 2) staff training procedures to increase knowledge related to dementia and aging; and 3) increases in staff to client ratios.

It is evident from the results of the Clearbrook study that additional funding will be required to meet the needs of increasing DD aging clients. The grant awarded by Washington Square Health Foundation has been instrumental in helping Clearbrook and other similar human service agencies continue to create innovative opportunities for people with developmental disabilities as they age throughout their lifetime.  The complete study and executive summary are found below: