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How to Combat Seasonal Affective Disorder

 

In the depths of winter, more people say they feel tired or depressed. For some, it’s a normal response to less sunlight. Just the winter blues. For others, it can be a deeper, clinical form of depression called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) that’s a regular pattern of mood changes that leaves people feeling gloomy during the fall and winter months, when there’s less natural sunlight each day.

If someone you’re caring for is suffering from SAD, it might seem like they’re hibernating. They tend to lose interest in activities they used to enjoy. Symptoms may include sadness, feeling hopeless, worthless, or irritable, low energy, difficulty sleeping or oversleeping, carbohydrate cravings and weight gain, and thoughts of death or suicide. Without treatment, the symptoms usually last until the days start getting longer.  

 Since depression can be trickier to spot in individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, and SAD is a form of depression, caregivers should realize that SAD may manifest in different ways. While people suffering from SAD may be less active when frustrated or feeling hopeless, it’s possible that someone with ID might bang his head or exhibit other behaviors. 

The exact causes of SAD are not clear. But researchers have found that people with SAD may suffer from an imbalance of serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood. Their bodies may make too much melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep, and not enough vitamin D.

The people most at risk for Seasonal Affective Disorder tend to be younger females who live far from the equator and come from families with a history of depression, bipolar disorder, or SAD.

In the early 1980s, researchers first discovered a link between light and seasonal depression. They pioneered the light therapy, which has become a first line treatment for SAD. With light therapy, patients sit in front of a light box every morning for at 30 minutes or more, according to a doctor’s recommendation. The light shines brighter than normal indoor lighting and relieves symptoms in up to 70 percent of patients after a few weeks of treatment.

A town in Norway took light therapy to a new level. Three huge mirrors stand on the mountainside above the town of Rjukan, according to Mosaic. The mirrors are mounted in such a way that it turns to track the sun while continuously reflecting its light down to the town square.

Studies also show that certain antidepressants can help treat SAD and prevent winter gloom. And mounting evidence shows that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), a type of talk therapy, can also help people with SAD. It involves identifying patterns and errors in one’s way of thinking and challenging them, according to Kelly Rohan, a psychologist and SAD expert. Patients with SAD might rephrase thought such as “I can’t do anything in winter” to “It’s harder for me to do things in winter, but if I plan and put in effort, I can.” Therapy can also involve finding activities that a person wants to do in the winter to pull out of “hibernation” mode.

Whether you or someone you’re caring for suffers from SAD, know that you can change your thinking and behavior and feel a bit better at this time of year. And with your help, they may be able to feel better too.


Mood Lifters

If you’re a parent or caretaker of someone who shows signs of having Seasonal Affective Disorder or perhaps experiencing it yourself, these tips from the National Institutes of Health can help lighten the effects of seasonal depression.

  • Go to a movie, take a walk in a park, go do some other activity you normally enjoy.
  • Get out in the sunlight or brightly lit spaces, especially early in the day.
  • Spend time with other people and confide in a trusted friend or relative.
  • Eat nutritious foods. Avoid overloading on carbohydrates like cookies and candy.
  • Be patient. You won’t snap out of depression. But your mood can improve gradually.
  • See a mental health professional if sadness doesn’t go away or interferes with your daily life.

National Alliance on Mental Illness – Philadelphia
5 strategies to beat caregiver depression
Low-cost cognitive providers therapy by state
Health care centers in Philly

A More Inclusive Hiring Process Welcomes Neurodiverse Workers

Companies are beginning to actively recruit neurodiverse people, according to Here & Now.

“There’s just a lot of talent out there,” said Neil Barnett, director of Inclusive Hiring and Accessibility at Microsoft. “More and more companies are seeing that.”

As we pause to honor civil rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., let’s take a look at a small trend but long-awaited trend. Companies are finally beginning to welcome neurodiverse people to the workplace. Different human wiring in neurodiverse populations translates into neurological differences that show up in dyspraxia, dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, Tourette Syndrome, and others, according to the National Symposium on Neurodiversity at Syracuse University.

According to Harvard Business Review, a rising number of companies have made their HR processes more inclusive to accommodate neurodiverse talent. They include SAP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Ford. The longest running program is SAP’s, which started in 2013.

Underestimated workers

People often underestimate the neurodiverse even though they may have the skills for a job. Prospective employers tell them they are not a culture fit. Sometimes fidgeting or a failure to make eye contact during a traditional interview process can take a person out of the running. Given the requirements of typical interview processes, perhaps it is not a surprise that most people with autism are unemployed.

According to the Boston Globe, advocates see the neurodiversity movement as a civil rights issue. These aren’t disorders, they argue, they just reflect normal variation in humans. And these people should be accommodated.

More inclusive hiring process

Because the traditional interview process is even more of a challenge for people on the autism spectrum, Microsoft tweaked its hiring process to “screen people in” in a more inclusive way said Barnett, who leads Microsoft’s Autism Hiring Program.  

Under the Autism Hiring Program, candidates can come and be themselves and showcase their skills over a five-day period, said Barnett. The company lets candidates get to know each other and the hiring team. They do team exercises, like using marshmallows and toothpicks to build a bridge. This gives Microsoft a way to assess a person’s demonstrated capacity for teamwork. And the applicants spend time doing practice interviews. Instead of one day of back-to-back interviews, they spread it out over two days.

Benefits of neurodiverse workers

There are benefits to including neurodiverse workers in your workforce. Neurodiverse people see the world differently, according to John Elder Robison, an advocate and author with Asperger’s syndrome. That can give them a competitive advantage in certain fields. With autism, for example, people may spot patterns that other people cannot. Such a neurological gift can help people test software for bugs and errors.

Companies have profited from lower product defect rates and higher productivity of neurodiverse workers, according to Harvard Business Review. And at SAP, neurodiverse employees helped develop a technical fix that saved an estimated $40 million.

Sometimes accommodations for neurodiverse employees benefit all workers. Because autistic employees don’t necessarily catch nuances or irony, corporate communications at one company became more direct and clear overall.

When he talks to companies that are looking into recruiting neurodiverse workers, Barnett said he always frames the discussion in terms of the benefits to the business. “This is not charity,” Barnett told Here & Now. “This is business impact.”

To learn more:
More companies are seeking out neurodiverse job candidates
Neurodiversity as a competitive advantage  
What is neurodiversity?
Companies tap into an underused but highly capable workforce

Casmir Celebrates 10th Year Anniversary

On Sept 14th, 2018 Casmir Care Services celebrated its 10th anniversary celebrations honoring families and staff at The Arts Ballroom in downtown Philadelphia. It was a memorable event which clients and staff members will remember for a long time to come.

Enjoy the Video at 

Enjoy a few highlights from the event!

Direct Support Professional

Safety: Security, Environment, Health

  • Maintain a safe and clean environment that meets the physical, emotional, and personal needs of the Individual(s).  Knowledge of crisis interventions, mental health diagnosis, and therapeutic relationships processes.

*Administers medication in accordance with medical provider directions and Casmir Cares Services /State of Pennsylvania policies (Medication Certified Residential Program only)

  • Assist with and work to strengthen the individual’s many daily living needs including but not limited to: communication and socialization skills, nutrition, preparing proper meals, proper hygiene.  Teach the Individual the importance of making his/her bed each morning, the importance of exercise by leading Individual in exercise routines when needed and weight control
  • Assist in maintaining Individual’s well-being by keeping his/her home clean, safe and orderly.
  • Gain and maintain knowledge of health and medical issues for all assigned individual(s) supported
  • Assist individual(s) with healthcare visits, (*Medication-Certified Staff-Residential Program only) and behavior support plans (BSP)
  • Assure Individual’s safety by observing and reporting any risk and notifying appropriate Supervisor/ Service Coordinator of any health concerns or needs for the individual(s)
  • Follow all policies and procedures regarding the safety of the individual(s) in all environments
  • Be a personal companion to the individual(s) and act as a helping hand serving his/her needs and working to build his/her independence
  • While performing the duties of this job, employee are occasionally required to stand; sit, walk, use hands to finger, handle, reach with arms and hands, stoop, kneel, crouch, crawl, talk or hear, taste or smell.
  • Must be able to lift and/or move at least 50-75 pounds

Programmatic: Choice, Active treatment, Community Resources

  • Implement, demonstrate and teach specific skills as outlined in the individual support plans as written (ISP), Behavior Support Plan (BSP) and any other clinical aspect for the Individual.
  • Obtain knowledge of individual(s) supported desired outcomes and works to ensure they are integrated into daily activities
  • Provide assistance and support to individual(s) in activities of daily living
  • Teach appropriate skills and involve individual(s) in meaningful and valued activities
  • Provide and seek out opportunities for individual(s) to make choices

Rights, Dignity and Respect:

  • Incorporate time, space, and opportunity for privacy in the life of individual(s) supported
  • Maintain strict confidentiality of all personal information concerning individual(s) supported
  • Understand, advocates and respects the rights of individual(s) supported
  • Treat individual(s) supported, his/her family, coworkers and Supervisor/Service Coordinator with dignity and respect

Community involvement:

  • Demonstrate the importance of community involvement, social interactions, and maintaining relationships by engaging Individual in community activities and active treatment when in the home or community.
  • Develop and facilitate community connections and relationships
  • Assist individual(s) in developing and following a person centered schedule
  • Aid individual(s) to participate in activities of their choosing
  • Provides opportunities for activities in various settings and transportation as needed
  • Encourage individual(s) supported to give back to the community

Customer Service and Excellence:

  • Exhibit professional behavior towards the individual(s) supported, families, coworkers, and Supervisor/Service Coordinator
  • Network with coworkers, the community and other professionals to find better ways to include individual(s) in routine life activities and community activities
  • Participate in treatment meetings in keeping with the goals and practices of the Individual
  • Willingly assist individual in activities of daily living including bathing, toileting and other self help skills
  • Willingly support individuals with challenging behavior(s)
  • While on shift staff must stay on site, any outings must be approved by Supervisor/Service Coordinator and documented properly
  • Communicate with Supervisor/Service Coordinator, Individual’s Team and (*Individual’s family- HCBS Program only)

Accountability:

  • Handle and maintain individual/agency finances ethically, honestly and accurately with appropriate documentation and receipts
  • Provide clear, accurate and timely records and documentation
  • Follow all agency policies and procedures
  • Provide emergency coverage when requested by management
  • Take initiative in performing additional tasks as needed or as assigned

Professional Conduct:

  • All Casmir Care Services staff are required to maintain a professional appearance that contributes to the image of the Individual, his/her family, visitor(s), co-worker(s) and stakeholders
  • Provide positive and appropriate feedback to coworkers, team members, Supervisor/Service Coordinators and agency representatives
  • Participate in and complete all periodic training(s) and certification(s) as required
  • Keep personnel records up-to-date by providing updated ID, phone numbers and home address
  • Report all concerns to the appropriate Supervisor/Service Coordinator in a timely manner

Mentor and train new staff to ensure that the workplace is a positive and productive environment (*Residential Staff Only)

  • Attend and participate in all assigned meetings, sharing ideas, discussing issues openly and honestly
  • Maintain confidentiality of records/information according to HIPAA, State, Federal laws and guidelines
  • Report any instance of abuse, neglect, mistreatment and exploitation immediately to the appropriate Supervisor/Service Coordinator
  • Display positive conduct in the community that enhances the image of individual(s) supported and the agency
  • Be a compassionate, patient and encouraging support professional at all times; you are a caregiver and advocate for the individuals we serve

All in the Family: Casmir Staffer Cares for Cousin and Brother

For Philadelphia resident Sharon Smith, working for Casmir Care Services is a family affair.

As a social service aide, she cares for her first cousin, Gerard, 44, and her brother, Eddie, who is 58. Casmir Care Services provides professional in-home and community care that helps enrich the lives of people with disabilities, individuals recovering from illness or injury, and adults with special needs.

Gerard recently received a Casmir Champion Award in recognition of his 10-year relationship with Casmir Care Services Inc. 

Sharon is one of about 40 people who are both Casmir staff and family members.

“Working with Casmir Care has been very pleasant,” Sharon says, citing staff support and the community. When her brother lands in the hospital, they reach out to check up on him and her. “They’ve almost become like a family,” she says.

 

Gerard accepts an award from Chetachi Dunkley-Ecton, CEO of Casmir Care (left) and Godwin Nwoga, Dir. of Operations (right).

Structure improves quality of life

Casmir started caring for her cousin 10 years ago. A few years later, Sharon joined as a staff member. Before coming to Casmir, she had worked in the mental health field for more than 20 years, but helping her cousin was her first experience working with a family member. Casmir has cared for her brother for 7 or 8 years.

These days, Sharon helps both her cousin and brother with day-to-day needs, including bathing, laundry, groceries, and getting them out into the community. Since her brother wants to learn to read and write, she’s helping him on that front too.  

Gerard is a bit more independent, although he still has the mindset of a child. And while people may have trouble understanding her brother, Sharon notes that his main problem is health problems like heart issues.

Before coming to live with Sharon, her cousin lived with his mother. Gerard was used to coming and going as he pleased and “doing his own thing,” she recalls.  He would go to bed when he wanted. After his mother got sick and left, he came to live with Sharon, who provided structure that he wasn’t used to. For instance, she makes sure he bathes regularly.

These days, another clear improvement, she says, is that he doesn’t elope as often.

In the old days, he wandered off almost daily, sometimes getting beat up.

Sharon credits the structure and hands-on support from staff for making a difference. Gerard sees the same faces over and over. Three times a week, he goes to a day program that gives him a chance to be among peers, doing little jobs. And he sees a behavioral specialist once a week.

 

Really listen to what they have to say

When you’re a caregiver for someone with intellectual disabilities, Sharon says, really listening to what they have to say can be helpful. Treating people with disabilities as a person who has a point to make can help you serve them better, she says.

For example, Gerard dreams of driving tractor trailers. But because of his intellectual disability, this dream isn’t likely to become a reality. But there are ways to support and encourage his interest, says Sharon. She and others take him to go see trucks. Two of her older brothers are truck drivers who let Gerard sit in their trucks and mess with stuff in there, she said. And sometimes when they go to work, they take him along.

Listening closely to his desires and his wants, says Sharon, is a way to support his interests, because getting that input helps others support him in tangible ways.

Residential Site Supervisor

Site Supervisor-Residential Program

Direct supervision of Direct Support Professionals working with Adults with Intellectual Disability/Autism in a Chapter 6400 regulated Home. Supervision includes staff schedules, disciplines, Individuals appointments, Community activities as well as the overall well-being, health and safety of the Individuals (Adults with Intellectual Disability/Autism) living in the home.  Must have a working knowledge of the 6400 regulations. Ability to complete and confirm required documentation to verify service delivery, and performance of the assigned staff as required. Assist with staff training and monitoring the daily activities of the Individuals’ homes.

 

General Responsibilities:

• Abide by established policies and procedures of the Agency, County, and State.
• Offers direction and supervision for compliance to direct support professionals.
• Anticipates crisis situations effectively using knowledge of individual likes, dislikes, stressors, and communication style.
• Assure individuals have a comfortable, clean, orderly, properly stocked and safe environment, which includes food shopping.
• Attend and participate in all required training sessions according to agency requirements.
• Complete required paperwork in a timely manner, i.e. individual documentation, staff counseling.
• Coordinates and reviews individuals’ logs and ensures that they are kept accurate and up-to-date.
• Communicate and/or attends treatment team meetings to plan individuals’ programs and review progress.
• Effectively communicates with residential staff, case managers and families in a timely manner
• Evaluates and appropriately acts in emergency situations; assists as needed.
• Provides supervision to staff (both positive and constructive). Accept appropriate feedback in good faith and in a professional, courteous, and respective manner.
• Ensures that programmatic and behavioral routines are followed as established; follows established procedures when making changes.
• Review program books in the individual’s home, making staff aware of its content.
• Monitors the quality and completion of all paperwork to and from staff.
• Participation in the implementation of individual support plans as well as the coordination of training of the support plan.
• Remains aware of behavioral and/or medical status of individuals; notifies appropriate authorities.
• Assist in psychiatric appointments of individuals assigned. • Responds immediately to crisis situations such as accidents, aggressive behaviors, illness, seizures, etc. of individuals assigned.
• Stays informed of and monitors compliance with the daily medical and nutritional needs of each individual assigned.
• Other duties as assigned.
Requirements: At least 3 years of experience working in a Residential Program. Previous Residential Supervisor experience with Adults with Intellectual Disabilities living in a Chapter 6400 regulated Home preferred. College degree preferred but not required. You must have unrestricted access to a private automobile for site visits, meetings, site emergencies etc. as required for the position.

New prospective employees must include the consent form with the Child Abuse Clearance.

This will allow a copy of the report to be sent to our Office.

A $10 money order must be included.

Please send resume to bthomas@casmircares.com

Casmir Care Services Annual Turkey Give-Away

In the spirit of Thanksgiving and support of families, Casmir Care Services Inc partnered with the When In Need foundation (WIN) and Browns Shoprite to give away hundreds of vouchers to families of Individuals supported by Casmir Care Services as well as other families in need. This annual tradition, held at the Casmir Care Services headquarters on 11/20/2018 brought smiles to the faces of the recipients. Special thanks to all Casmir Cares staff who participated to ensure that the giveaway was fun and touching.  Visit our Facebook page to learn more about the event. 

 

 

Our Vision

A strong health care agency with the capability of sustaining and extending quality health care services to all intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals in Pennsylvania and surrounding states.

Contact Us

4950 Parkside Ave, Suite 400,
Philadelphia, Pa 19131
Phone: 267-292-3116
Fax: 267-292-4879
support@casmircares.com

About Us

Our goal is to ensure peace of mind for families and loved ones who are faced with the challenges of placing relatives in nursing homes and other treatment facilities. We offer a wide array of non-medical services tailored to the unique needs of the individuals we care for.