Life-Skills expands its services in Dudley
By Janet Stoica
They outgrew the former Ethan Allen office building on Chase Avenue, and when the opportunity arose to purchase a relatively new facility located at 163 West Main Street in Dudley, Life-Skills, Inc. took the jump. The social services organization, specializing in programs for the developmentally disabled, is quietly but assuredly making its mark in Massachusetts; soon they be expanding into Connecticut with its new licensure for day habilitation settings.
Pleased with their new Dudley facility, they celebrated with an Open House on December 18. On hand to celebrate were Dave Kline, director of day habilitation; Thomas Amick, chief executive officer, Life-Skills; Mark Wojcicki, senior manager, Bollus Lynch CPAs; Robert Seega, vice president, investment banking, Mass. Development; Joselyn Magrey, Dudley program manager; Kathy Nolan, chief financial officer, Life-Skills; and James Ciociolo, vice president, relationship manager, TD Bank. Building tours were conducted and light refreshments were served.
The building itself is plain and simple, and the programs it provides for developmentally disabled adults are remarkable. Individual needs are met and administered once clients arrive daily to the new facility. There is also a full-time nurse who sees to the needs of all clients’ medical requirements. “Our large therapy room uses many repositioning chairs,” said Joselyn Magrey, program director, “five percent of our clients are non-ambulatory and we accommodate their needs. We are a medical and physical-based facility providing alternative food textures for those who require it, whether puree, dysphagia, or aspiration.” Ms. Magrey has been with the organization for seven years as a case manager and program director for the past year.
There are two Life-Skills locations in Webster on Morris Street. These locations serve higher-functioning community members as well as those who require some medical and vocational involvement. Their clients are from the greater Webster and Dudley area. With 25 clients who regularly attend the Dudley site, most are referred from either Mass. Health or the Mass. Department of Developmental Services. “Mass. Health provides most of our funding for our clients here,” said Ms. Magrey, “and Mass. Developmental Services is a referral source.”
“In 1970 Life-Skills, Inc. was founded by parents of disabled adults looking for programs for their sons and daughters,” said David Kline, director of day programs. “44 Morris Street in Webster is the main site. Group homes in Webster were soon established for higher-functioning clients, and we grew our day habilitation services from there.”
A tour of the Dudley facility includes a sensory room for relaxation and calming, a changing room for those in need, nurse’s office, kitchen, dining/activity room, conference room, program director office, conference room, laundry area, and hair salon (a big hit with clients). The building is open concept. Tom Amick, CEO of Life-Skills, Inc., has been with the organization since 1986. He holds degrees in psychology and vocational rehabilitation and hails from West Virginia. “When I began my tenure with this organization we had a staff of 54, now we employ 400,” Mr. Amick said. “Originally, we had one day-hab center, now we have six. We own seven residential group homes and have locations in Gardner, Lancaster, Fitchburg, Leominster, and Greenfield. We have recently become certified in Connecticut and hope to expand into Connecticut with day habilitation services and new residences accessible to elderly individuals. It’s a great program for the developmentally disabled who seek alternatives to nursing homes. We feel that this is an alternative to nursing homes. Our staff can care for those individuals who want to remain at home for their lifetimes. We hope to do a better job than just nursing home placement. Our staff can care for our clients who might want to stay at home until life’s passing. Aging gracefully is a better way to put it. Our staff will remain with them overnight for feedings or medical needs. For any critical medical requirements our staff becomes their family. If you’re non-verbal and need mobility assistance, our staff will be there for you. Everyone’s aging, and we can provide services to those in the elderly age group who are developmentally disabled.”
Services are provided for those developmentally-disabled adults 22 years of age and over, male or female, and Life-Skills, Inc. also has a multi-lingual staff. Formerly known as Southern Worcester County Rehabilitation Center, Inc., the new name of Life-Skills, Inc. will officially become effective January 1, 2019. Information for new clients can be obtained by phoning Life-Skills, Inc., 44 Morris Street, Webster MA 01570. (508) 943-0700. www.life-skillsinc.org