What we learned from COVID-19: Inclusion, creativity, and innovation


COVID-19 has made GoodLife’s iLink technology and labor strategies even more relevant to our residents, staff, and partners. As we continue to redefine what’s possible for inclusion with seniors and people with disabilities, COVID-19 has prompted many new ways of delivering care at the place and moment of need. While our well-established model of care helped us react to the coronavirus, we are certainly continuing to learn new things as we adapt. 

We have been inundated with questions from organizations across the country that need help because they see that our models work. It’s now our pleasure to share what we’ve learned with others in the industry. GoodLife’s Mike Strouse will be participating in a roundtable discussion at this year’s ANCOR Policy Summit, Leading Beyond Crisis. Recently, The National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals recognized our best practices in workforce development, and awarded GoodLife with the 2020 Moving Mountains Award. We continue to see the platforms and accolades the industry provides as opportunities to share our knowledge with others to make a meaningful difference in the everyday lives of seniors, people with disabilities, and those who support them. 

Turning challenges into opportunities

This summer, we shared how GoodLife adapted to COVID-19 by closing our day services and providing in-home services only. We actually prefer this arrangement because we think that the best day services are delivered inclusively and organically throughout the day. “When I want to participate in an activity in my community, I don’t go to a center. I leave my home with the people in my life and I go to the store, or the movie theater, or the park,” says CEO Mike Strouse. “Recognizing how we can shift our models to reflect more organic ways of doing life is a positive outcome of the pandemic. And we always like to find the positive in the midst of challenges.” 

Our iLink technology already allows us to serve our residents remotely, but COVID-19 has made us analyze every aspect of our program to see how we can be even more virtual and available. This in-depth look has motivated our nursing services to increase remote availability during the pandemic. It has prompted us to create neighborhood microclinics that connect with larger off-site wellness clinics to make meaningful at-home health connections. “A remote tool, like a blood pressure cuff, isn’t helpful to an off-site clinic if the resident on the other end isn’t trained in how to use it. What’s great about our neighborhoods is that each home has trained nurses to help our residents get the care they need without ever leaving home”, shares Mike. “This is a huge innovation, not only during COVID-19 but long into the future as care needs change.”

It’s clear that technology alone cannot provide the support individuals with significant needs require. Many of our residents need 24-hour face-to-face care, and we are perfectly positioned to do this safely as we head into an uncertain future with COVID-19. In fact, our hiring and onboarding process is now completely virtual. We find that candidates are more comfortable in interviews when able to talk with us in their own environment. Plus, eliminating the need to travel to our offices gives candidates and new hires more time in their day for other personal needs. “As a result of our success with virtual hiring, we are now focused on proximity hiring”, says Mike. “Aside from our innovative job schedules, we’ve learned that close proximity to work makes people happier. We are working to match staff to neighborhoods that are geolocated closer to home. That’s exciting.”  

Coming together for an inclusive world

Looking to what’s next for GoodLife through a COVID-19 lens, we understand that not everyone may want to move to one of our neighborhoods. We’re exploring a mobile solution to deliver care to individuals everywhere they call home, using the science we’ve developed for our neighborhoods. “We’ve always been about inclusion, for individuals with I/DD, seniors, family members, everyone,” says Mike. “Where I get excited as I look ahead is that we’re really supporting a neighborhood and all the needs in it. I truly think GoodLife can be an example for helping people to get along better by creating environments that promote inclusivity and community.”

Talk with us to learn more about how we’re championing new ways of working that make inclusion possible.

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