Clients and Families, please visit this webpage for all updates on Sunshine Village’s response to Covid-19/Coronavirus.
We hope that you and your loved ones are doing well during this difficult time. This page will be updated as information becomes available. We look forward to reconnecting with you once this is over.
May 28, 2020: Wave Parade Tomorrow
Join us for our second Wave Parade tomorrow, Friday, May 29th from 10-11am at our main campus at 75 Litwin Lane in Chicopee!
As you drive around the campus, you’ll receive our signature warm welcome with waves, smiles, and fun surprises. Don’t forget to bring your Coast Busters calendar or you can mail it in to us once you’re finished for this month. We’ll have tokens to hand out for those that hand it in at the wave parade. Hope to see you there!
May 27, 2020: A Video Message from the Executive Director
May 26, 2020: Helpful Apps
Click here to find a list of free apps that can help with boredom.
May 21, 2020: April Happy Birthday Celebration
May 20, 2020: Fun Resources
- Explore recipes from your favorite Pixar movies – click here
- Calming techniques with Sesame Street characters – click here
May 19, 2020: Bolster Your Health with EAP
Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers free resources to bolster your health during the pandemic. If your activities are limited, it’s more important than ever to maintain a healthy routine. Eat well, exercise regularly, maintain good sleep habits, and manage stress and anxiety. Your online Wellness Center offers resources for exercising and fitness, eating healthy, balancing nutrition, learning how to manage stress and quitting unhealthy habits. And you can access thousands of articles, videos and tools on medical and health topics as varied as cardio health, eye care, medical conditions, pregnancy and childbirth, men’s health and safety – there’s even a collection of recipes if you want to try something new. You can also call 800.252.4555 and ask to speak to a Wellness Coach for one-on-one telephonic coaching.
May 18, 2020: Virtual Museums
- New England Air Museum in Windsor, CT – click here
- Salvador Dali Museum – click here
- Ventfort Hall Mansion ad Gilded Age Museum – click here
May 15, 2020: Updates and Activities from DDS
The MA Department of Developmental Services regularly posts updates and new information on their website: https://www.mass.gov/orgs/department-of-developmental-services. In addition to helpful guidance, you can view other resources, including activities, here.
May 13, 2020: Self-care Resources
Click the links below for resources that remind us to take time for self-care during this difficult time.
- Self-care Tips for Caregivers- click here
- Twelve Ways to Take Better Care of Yourself – click here
- Ten Habits to Practice Self-care – click here
- Daily Questions for Caregivers to Build in Time for Self-care – click here
May 12, 2020: Reconnecting With Nature
These resources can help you connect with nature while staying safe.
- The Trustees of Reservations has launched a new Trustees at Home page on their website. Get a virtual dose of nature. Connect with art, culture, and history. Learn how to cultivate your garden. Keep the kids busy. Visit one of their working farms. And more!
- Keep connected with nature and the seasons while staying safe at home! The Hitchcock Center in Amherst, MA, has virtual nature-inspired offerings, including their favorite off-the-beaten-path hikes, teaching resources, animal anecdotes, seasonal discoveries, bird watching, and nature-based bingo! Find out more online: www.hitchcockcenter.org.
- Mass Audubon has a newly-launched Explore Nature at Home section on their website. Find videos from their team of amazing naturalists and educators like “Bird of the Day” and “Nature in Your Neighborhood” from cities and towns across Massachusetts. Activities to download for the entire family include nature bingo, coloring sheets, and a scavenger hunt. There are also ways to engage in citizen science by recording wildlife observations and actions you can take to protect the planet.
May 11, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
Last week – we hosted our first Wave Parade and over 70 cars took a spin around our parking lot – waving at the friendly faces of our management and case management team. It was a wonderful way to reconnect – even just for a few minutes – while socially distancing.
Our next parade will be on Friday, May 29th from 10:00 to 11:00 at our main campus at 75 Litwin Lane. This one will be bigger and better – and I hope you can join us!
Our website continues to be updated daily with new videos in both our programmatic and clinical series on our Virtual Services page. We’ve also added a page for all of the Activity Packets – for your easy access if you missed opening an email.
AND don’t forget to connect with our private Facebook page – Sunshine Village Coast Busters – for updates and the weekly achievement video for our Moving Across America wellness challenge!
Please let us know if you need to upgrade your technology to participate in our Virtual and Remote Services plan and are having difficulties – either with the financial costs or understanding how it all works. We will try to connect you with resources that may be able to help.
We hope to hear more from the Baker Administration soon as to when and how Sunshine Village will be able to re-open. Once we know, I will let you know.
Until then, take care
Gina Kos, Executive Director
May 8, 2020: Tips for Managing Anxiety During the Pandemic
- Click here for The Child Mind Institute’s tips for managing anxiety during the pandemic.
- Click here for The ARC of Massachusetts’ resources for social distancing.
- Click here for The Autism Research Institute’s webinars and other resources for coping.
May 7, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
We are improving our Virtual and Remote Services (VARS) plan.
A new page has been added to our Banner on this website – so now you can easily access our Great Days Activity Packets. These packets are sent electronically to all of our program participants each Tuesday and Thursday. We will now also place them on this new page each Friday.
We also now are providing 2 new videos each day to our Programmatic Series and a video or pamphlet each day for our Clinical Series on our Virtual Services page. We invite you to view all these engaging sessions – as many times as you’d like!
Tomorrow – May 8th from 10:00 to 11:00 will be our Wave Parade! Join us and take a pass around our parking lot – which will be lined with many friendly and familiar faces!
We are here if you need us – and hope to hear plans from the Baker Administration as to when and how we can re-open.
Until then – take care,
Gina Kos Executive Director
May 6, 2020: Tips to Alleviate Allergies
Let the fresh air in! Spring is a great time to open windows, but many of us suffer from spring allergies. Help alleviate allergy symptoms with these tips…
- Adopt a “no shoes” policy in the house to help keep the outside, outside.
- Wash your bedding in very hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) once a week to eliminate potential dust mites.
- Run the bathroom fan or open a window while taking a shower or bath to better control moisture and mold.
- Click here to identify what kind of allergy you may have
- Keep windows in your home and car closed as much as possible to prevent pollen from drifting in.
- The best times to be outdoors are when pollen levels are lowest. Peak pollination occurs for a few hours after sunrise and during the hours after sunset.
- Enjoy the outdoors on rainy, cloudy and windless days. Pollen is minimized when these weather conditions exist.
- If gardening, avoid touching your face and especially eyes.
- Shower after spending time outdoors. Pollen tends to collect in your hair and skin and ends up on your pillow which may worsen symptoms long after your exposure.
- Use air conditioning to filter pollen from the air in your home.
- Avoid activities that cause pollen to reenter the air such as lawn mowing or leaf blowing or use a facial mask and goggles if unable to avoid this contact during these activities.
- Wear a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses to reduce the amount of pollen that blows into your eyes.
- Apply and rinse your eyes with saline eye drops after being outdoors to wash away pollen.
- Saline sinus rinses can bring much relief to those with chronic sinus or rhinitis problems by removing pollen from the nasal and sinus passages.
May 5, 2020: Information for SSI and SSDI Recipients
Please note that the Social Security Administration will not consider Economic Impact Payments as income for SSI/SSDI recipients, and the payments are excluded from resources for 12 months. For more information about Social Security retirement, survivors, and disability insurance beneficiaries, please read this recent blog.
Click here for more information.
May 4, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
SOMETHING NEW THIS WEEK! Please join us for the FIRST Sunshine Village Wave Parade. On Friday, May 8th, from 10:00 to 11:00, Managers and Case Managers will be lining the parking lot of our main campus at 75 Litwin Lane in Chicopee. If you can – take a ride over – and wave back!
Today is Day 4 of the Sunshine Village wellness challenge – Coast Busters: Moving Across America. I hope you are all joining us on this adventure – moving your body and sharpening your mind! The goal each day – 30 minutes of your choice of movement – and then 30 minutes of exploring the cities and towns we visit as we head to Anaheim, California. Remember – if you submit your calendars at the end of the challenge – you will receive tokens AND you will be entered into a raffle for SSV swag and other great prizes!
I know many of you are wondering when Sunshine Village will be re-opening. As soon as we hear from the Baker Administration and the Department of Developmental Services (DDS), we will let you know.
Until then, visit www.sunshine.us to view our Virtual Services page – which has new therapeutic and programmatic videos being added daily – AND open up your emails for our Great Days Activity Packets each Tuesday and Thursday.
If there is anything we can do to help you or your family members during this difficult time, please call.
Gina Kos, Executive Director
May 1, 2020: Fitness Ideas
Click here to see workout videos and more to encourage fitness and healthy habits from the Special Olympics Massachusetts.
April 30, 2020: “Bored Game”
Thank you to Deb Walsh of TSM Design for creating this uplifting “bored game” to remind us to make good choices and stay positive during this difficult time.
April 29, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
Yesterday, the Baker Administration announced that it would be extending its Emergency Order for non-essential businesses to remain closed to the public for another two weeks. That will bring the Sunshine Village closure to May 18th – one day less than nine full weeks of closure.
Although Sunshine Village is officially deemed a “non-essential” business, we have been very busy! Many of our managers, case managers, nurses and clinicians have worked tremendously hard to create and implement an incredibly innovative, consumer driven Virtual and Remote Services plan. This VARS plan will now continue until we open – and perhaps even afterwards – to provide engaging directed and self-driven individual and group activities that promote wellness, personal growth, professional development and community spirit.
Our employees at Westover Maintenance Systems have managed to maintain the services for all the buildings and hangars at Westover Air Reserve Base – so that those jobs are there for the individuals we serve when we return. AND the Administrative Services team has worked diligently to insure the important human resource and necessary financial functions have gone on without disruption.
We have continued to pay all of our employees 100% of their compensation and benefits to insure that they will return when we re-open – so that the folks we serve can return to the same smiling faces who waved good bye to them on March 17th.
Will May 18th be the date? That remains to be seen. As always, when I know more, I will share more.
Until then, I hope I leave you with optimism, enthusiasm and…hope. Remember, when you focus on the good…the good gets better.
Gina Kos, Executive Director
April 28, 2020: Booklet on Supporting Those With Autism
Click here to read the The UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute Autism Team’s booklet, “Supporting Individuals with Autism During Uncertain Times”.
April 27, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
I wish I could be bringing you the good news that a date has been set for the programs of Sunshine Village to re-open…but unfortunately, I am not able to. The Baker Administration originally set the Emergency Closure until May 4th; however, there are indications that the closure may last longer than that. As soon as I know more, I will let you all know!
Thank you for visiting this web page to learn more about what’s happening at Sunshine Village – and our suggestions for resources that may make your days a little BRIGHTER. Please be sure to visit our Virtual Services page too – we will be loading some more GREAT videos this week – with some familiar faces!
I am excited to tell you about NEW initiatives that are detailed in flyers that are being sent through the US Mail to your home this week.
First, we have developed a way for all program participants to support our community during this very difficult time. This volunteer opportunity entails sending a card or a piece of artwork to one of the local nursing homes that we regularly volunteer with when our programs are operating. This will be a great way to spread some SUNSHINE to others.
Second, we are including an invitation for everyone to participate in Coast Busters: Moving Across America. I don’t want to give too much away about this incredibly exciting two month long self-driven, integrated wellness challenge – but it truly is something that will get you moving and exploring – and having some GREAT DAYS!
We are now looking at hosting a WAVE PARADE at Sunshine Village – where everyone can take a pass around our driveway – waving at friends and reading messages of HOPE! We will let you know when we have finalized this event.
COVID-19 may have darkened our buildings – but Sunshine Village continues to SHINE!
Until we can welcome you back, take care…
Gina Kos, Executive Director
April 24, 2020: We Miss You and Will See You Again Soon!
April 23, 2020: Free Resources for Fun and Entertainment
- Free Andrew Lloyd Webber Musicals – click here
- Home activities from NASA – click here
- Hear the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, learn about instruments, and more – click here
- Take advantage of free streaming services – click here
- Fun American History acitivities – click here
April 22, 2020: Free Meditation and Mindfulness Tools
Get grounded and centered with these free resources for meditation and mindfulness practice.
April 21, 2020: Be Aware of Potential Scams
Unfortunately, during the crisis there are people that will look to trick and take advantage of others. We all need to be careful and aware of the scams happening during this time of crisis. The following are examples of some scams that have been in the news recently.
- Individuals in lab coats or other medical looking outfits going to people’s houses saying they are testing for COVID-19.
- Emails about available jobs that instruct the recipient to “click here” to see the list of available jobs, or they sound like they are from recruiters “following up on a resume” and tell you to “click to schedule an interview”.
- Emails telling you your credit score is in danger of dropping- “click here to see how to prevent that from happening”.
- Emails that look like they are from PayPal soliciting donations for COVID-19 victims.
- Email “offers” for masks, gloves, and other protective equipment.
- Emails that sound “too good to be true”
April 20, 2020: Message from the Executive Director
As we begin Week 6 of the Sunshine Village closure, I want to extend my wishes to all of you for another week where you and your loved ones will stay healthy and well.
Last week, we fully implemented our newly developed Virtual and Remote Services plan.
Many of you have been receiving twice weekly phone calls from our nursing team and, now, everyone has been included in our Virtual Services offered through our web site. (If you haven’t participated, click on VIRTUAL SERVICES in the red banner on our home page.) Everyone has also been offered Remote Services, including our Themed Activity Packet – which is emailed each Tuesday – and our PBS Activity Packet – which is emailed each Thursday. Some of you have also been able to participate in small group communication. Lastly, we added tips and community resources to this page and we sent out personalized cards of encouragement, which we hoped brightened everyone’s day.
This week, our clinicians will join our nursing team in contacting people who they have been working with and we will continue adding sessions to our web site’s Virtual Services page as well as emailing both the Themed Activity Packet and PBS Activity Packet. We will continuing updating this page with tips / community resources.
On Wednesday, we will be sending an email about a new addition to this plan – our Weekly Challenge. We will be identifying an activity – and ask each participant to develop their own goal – and then work during the next week to achieve that goal. The following Wednesday, for those who achieved their goal, their names will go into a raffle so there will be some lucky winners! This challenge is an “on your honor” challenge – and we think it will be great fun!
On Friday, we will be adding a new session in the remote service arena – where we will be providing information as to how individuals can continue engaging with the community – through volunteer efforts. So keep an eye out for that email!
We are also looking at where the individuals we serve live – and for those who live in the same house with at least two other SSV participants, we are looking at providing Activity Packages – filled with ideas and materials to keep people engaged with lifelong learning during these days at home.
We realize that we are sending a lot of emails….sometimes more than one a day – but we want you to know when we are adding sessions to the Virtual Services page or sending Activity Packets. Although we are using telephonic services and the US Mail, unfortunately, with the situation we are in, email is the most efficient way to communicate with you and distribute our information.
We also know how boring and, honestly, frustrating, it can be to be home day after day. Our Program Managers and Case Managers have access to both their email and voice mail systems. If you need assistance, please call us. We may be able to give you some ideas to make your days a little easier.
On this Patriots Day, as we remember not only the first battles of the American Revolutionary War and the victims and survivors of the Boston Marathon bombing seven years ago, I hope we also remember to smile at those around us – as we continue to stay apart. I’ll leave you with a quote from our 16th president and patriot, Abraham Lincoln,
“Folks are usually about as happy as they make their minds up to be.”
April 17, 2020: Enjoy Free Audiobooks
Hear the classics and discover new favorites! Click on the links below to find free audiobooks and other resources.
- https://profounder.com/spotify/ (You’ll need to download the Spotify app to access the audiobooks)
- https://librivox.org/ – You can even take a turn as a narrator!
- Use https://www.overdrive.com/ or https://www.overdrive.com/ to access a audiobooks and other types of entertainment/
- Check out https://libraries.state.ma.us/libraries/search to find your local library’s website and a world of resources available to you with your library card!
April 15, 2020: Financial Literacy Questions Answered
Click here for a resource that explains your financial questions with many topics, including loans, prepaid credit cards, and “how to help a loved one manage their money”.
April 14, 2020: Building Culinary Arts Skills
Click the links below for helpful resources to build important culinary arts skills:
April 10, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
I am hoping that this email finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy.
This past Monday, I sent an email letting you know that Sunshine Village was developing a plan to provide remote services for people who attend our programs. This plan was developed in response to direction from MassHealth and the Department of Developmental Services.
Within this plan, we are going to provide services in the following manner:
- TELEPHONIC: Individuals within our Day Hab programs will receive twice weekly phone calls from our team of nurses and individuals in our other programs who opted out of other service provision methods will receive a weekly phone call.
- LOW TECH / NO TECH: All individuals, unless they have opted out of services entirely, will receive two activity packets weekly through email. Emails will also be sent with a link to our website for access to tutorials created by our Clinical Team. Personalized greeting cards will be sent through the US Mail. For some individuals who receive services within our Employment Services or CBDS programs, additional offerings may be provided.
- TECHNOLOGY: We have also developed other services using remote communication tools and will begin offering small group activities for individuals who are in our Employment Services and CBDS programs.
We are aware that some individuals may not want to participate and we are also cognizant of the stress that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating. We do not want to create any additional tension in your home.
Please let us know if we need to change the frequency or method of any of the services. All of our managers have access to our email systems or you can leave a message for them at 413/592-6142.
We are so looking forward to opening our programs – and welcoming everyone back! Until then, stay safe and take care.
Gina Kos, Executive Director
April 9, 2020: How To Build A Sensory Space At Home
Click the links below to discover how easy it is to make a sensory environment that enriches your living space.
April 6, 2020: A Message from the Executive Director
Sunshine Village closed the doors to most of our programs on March 17th – under the guidance of Department of Developmental Services. Governor Baker has now closed us until May 4th. I hope to be able to welcome everyone back to Sunshine Village on May 4th….but we don’t know when the closure order will be lifted.
Last week, we began calling people at their homes to check on how they were. In our day habilitation programs, our nursing staff made the calls. We will continue these calls weekly unless we are asked to stop. We hope that having weekly access to an RN through telephonic services will make things easier for the families that people live with – or for the residential staff who are supporting our folks.
Our Case Management team made calls to people who are funded by the DDS. For these folks, we also made a call to inquire as to the level of interest in receiving remote services – in paper form, through the use of technology or just a weekly phone call.
This week, we will be working to develop remote programming for people in our DDS funded services. However, while we are doing this, if anyone would like us to try to arrange a call from a favorite staff, just let us know – and we will do what we can!
We will also begin hosting a page this week on our website – www.sunshine.us – with videos for our participants to watch. They will see familiar faces – sharing ideas to stay safe and ways to keep busy while at home.
We know how hard this is for the people we serve to be away from us and their daily schedules…because it’s hard for us too! So many employees of Sunshine Village are feeling the void in their lives – missing the daily routines that make up our great days.
We will continue to update our website with resources that we hope people will find helpful. Managers are checking voice mail and email systems – so if you need any assistance, please contact us.
Take care, be safe and stay apart…until we can come together again.
April 3, 2020: We Have Been Closed Past the “Incubation Period”
For people who are worried that they have not heard from Sunshine Village about anyone who has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, please know that as of today, April 3rd, we have been closed for 18 days. That is 4 days past the 14 day “incubation period.” Although no one at Sunshine Village is a COVID-19 expert, it is our understanding, from the time of transmission, symptoms appear within one to fourteen days. We have also read that most symptoms are evident within five days of exposure. Even if someone was exposed on March 16th – the last day that we were open – symptoms would have appeared by March 30th.
Sunshine Village was notified of one person who tested positive. We notified all the individuals who were in that person’s program (participants and employees) as well as representatives at the Department of Developmental Services – who is our primary referral agency.
If we are made aware of any other individuals who have tested positive from this point on, we will contact DDS.
April 3, 2020: Resource for Telephone and Internet Service During the Crisis
March 31, 2020: More Great Days Are Still Ahead
At Sunshine Village, we have had so many great days together – days filled with smiles, laughs, and the feelings of success and friendship. These days are still ahead of us! We just need to stay the course for a little while longer until we can all be together.
Another week has started and we still do not know when our programs will be able to open again. This can feel disappointing. We are all likely thinking about the ways our lives have changed so quickly.
Instead, let’s take a moment to think about the ways our lives are still “normal” and be thankful for the safety of our homes. We have so much to be thankful for even if it means we cannot be together with friends or family the way we would like.
At Sunshine Village, we are thinking of you and hoping that you and your loved ones are doing well. We are also thinking of our employees – and have done many things to insure that they are able to come back to work with you when we all return!
We will continue to update you – and with April almost here….we will share ways that we can celebrate Autism Awareness Month. Please continue visiting our website so we can stay connected.
March 27, 2020: Message from Executive Director
The buildings of Sunshine Village are quiet right now – but I know that when we re-open them – they will be filled with smiling faces. Great days will happen again!Unfortunately – I don’t know when we can re-open our programs. Governor Baker has issued an order that we close – and we have to stay closed until he lifts that order.
As soon as I know when we can re-open, I will let everyone know! Keep an eye on this website for updates.
Until then – take care of yourself and know that we will get thru this together…by staying apart.
Gina Kos, Executive Director
March 23, 2020: Message from Executive Director
U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams warned today [March 23rd] that the coronavirus outbreak will worsen this week and said that people across the country are not taking the threat seriously enough. The disease is spreading, he said, because many people — especially young people — are not abiding by guidance to stay at home and practice social distancing.
Sunshine Village has closed its programs and is operating its commercial cleaning business, which cleans Westover Air Reserve Base, using only essential personnel. Administrative Services will be working reduced hours, on Tuesdays from 8:00 am until 12 noon, using only essential employees.
We all have to assume that we may have come in contact with someone who was infected – and was asymptomatic (and may continue to be asymptomatic.) People we live with may have been exposed. As we go to the supermarket or pharmacy, we may come in contact with the virus.
We need to continue to practice social distancing and proper and frequent hand washing.
If you are not feeling well try to use Teladoc services through your health insurance carrier. Call them to see if they offer phone, mobile app or online video consultation.
March 23, 2020: Economic Relief Fund
The United Way has a Covid-19 Community Economic Relief Fund to help with food, bills, rent, etc. Call 1(800)-211-9966 and provide your zip code. You will be given a list of agencies that can assist you with accessing these resources.
March 20, 2020: Closing of Administrative Offices
In addition to the previous closings of our day program sites, as of Monday, March 23, 2020, we are also closing our main campus and admininstrative offices. On Tuesday, March 24th, and Tuesday, March 31, the administrative office will be open from 8-12pm only. If you need assistance, especially with picking up medications, please call us at (413)592-6142 to make arrangements. We will continue to update this webpage as more information becomes available.
March 18, 2020: Resources from DDS
Below are links to resources in both English and Spanish on COVID -19 for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
March 17, 2020: Updated Administrative Services Office Hours
Administrative Services will be open Wednesday (March 18th) and Thursday (March 19th) from 8:00am to 2:00pm. Then administrative services will be open reduced hours from 8:00am to 12:00pm starting Friday (March 20th) to Friday (April 3rd.) We hope to re-open on Monday, April 6th.
March 16, 2020: Notice to Participants and Families/Guardians
In an effort to keep our participants and staff safe and healthy during the Covid-19 Emergency,
Sunshine Village will be closed March 17th-April 5th
We will continue to update you on:
- Our website: sunshine.us
- WWLP – Channel 22
If you need to pick up medication, program sites will be open from 8am-12pm on March 17th and March 18th. Please call (413)592-6142 with any questions.
March 15, 2020: Update on Attendance Policies
March 14, 2020: Sunshine Village’s Response To-date
- We have assessed our mechanisms for COMMUNICATION and began disseminating information to all stakeholders – including participants/families, funding sources, board members, employees, vendors, community partners and provider agencies – through personal communication and in written form through mail, e-mail and through the agency’s website. We have updated our voice mail system to direct people to the website for updates. The website – www.sunshine.us – has been updated to include an area specific to viewing information on the Coronavirus.
- We enhanced our CLEANING and SANITATION procedures and assessed our health and maintenance SUPPLIES. Although we have been unable to restock masks and hand sanitizer, we have plenty of hand soap and bleach on hand and are expecting a shipment of disinfectant to be delivered on March 16, 2020.
- We have begun providing additional, repetitive TRAINING to staff and participants on proper hand washing and coughing techniques. We posted informational flyers at all sites. We have postponed employee training that is held in a group setting or requires close contact. Training through the organization’s E-Academy system continues. Attendance at trainings held off-site will be assessed on a case by case basis.
- We have RESTRICTED VISITOR ACCESS to all sites. This has included community partners and vendors and we are not hosting ISP meetings and other meetings. Exceptions are being made on an as needed basis, including for interviews. Attendance by employees at meetings held at off-site locations will be assessed on a case by case basis. We have posted signs on entrances to all sites.
- We have limited volunteer efforts and community access for participants and employees – particularly with organizations who serve seniors and locations that host large groups of people.
- Sunshine Village has planned how it will continue our commercial cleaning operations at Westover Air Reserve Base throughout this crisis and we are working with our business partners for operations at VillageWorks. We have also started talking with employers of participants.
- We have provided our EMPLOYEES with information about our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and the national Disaster Distress Helpline (1-800-985-5990) for emotional support and have amended our sick time policy until March 31, 2020 for use of paid/unpaid time to allow staff to stay out of work if they are sick. We have also provided employees with information about Teledoc – where they can access medical care without going to the hospital or doctor’s office.
- We have communicated with our TRANSPORTATION providers who contract through MART and our own drivers for Sunshine Village transportation that – upon the recommendation of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health – they are not to let people who are exhibiting symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat) to enter their vehicles.
- We have communicated with RESIDENTIAL PROVIDERS and PARTICIPANTS/FAMILIES that we – upon the recommendation from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health – we will begin screening individuals – including participants and employees – before entering the program – and sending anyone home who we deem to be sick.
- We have updated our EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS PLAN and shared our efforts with the Department of Developmental Services.
The conditions for the coronavirus outbreak are rapidly changing and Sunshine Village is monitoring the situation closely and working continuously to address and support our COVID-19 preparedness efforts. We will provide updates as recommendations or requirements are made by federal, state and local governing agencies and as decisions are made by Sunshine Village to protect the people we support and employ as well as the community we serve.
March 13, 2020: Update Regarding Screening Before Entering Day Programs
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is requiring community day programs – like Sunshine Village – to screen individuals before they enter day programs. If a participant is exhibiting any of the conditions below, they will need to be picked up by their residential provider or a family member within one hour:
- Sick with fever (higher than 100.3 degrees F)
- Newly developed respiratory illness such as a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat
We are also screening employees, vendors and guests. We have implemented a restriction on visitors and have very limited access to who can enter our buildings.
THANK YOU for your support as we work together to keep everyone safe and healthy.
March 12, 2020: In an effort to reduce the risks of Covid-19/Coronavirus, we are limiting visitors to all of our sites, including ISP’s, tours, meetings, trainings, and events. Interviews will be conducted on a case-by-case basis. Please call with any questions (413)592-6142.
March 11, 2020: Executive Director’s Letter to Families and Guardians
Dear Family Members and Guardians,
Governor Baker has called a state of emergency in Massachusetts to help government offices, schools and organizations respond to the growing concerns around the potential spread of Covid-19/Coronavirus. Sunshine Village is keeping up-to-date with all information as the situation unfolds and; most importantly, responding quickly to keep the individuals we serve and our staff as safe and healthy as possible.
No one knows how long or how extensive the spread of the virus will be, but we are closely monitoring the state and federal recommendations. With weather-related emergencies, we have had to close our programs and this current communicable disease creates similar challenges. With the current situation we can only control how we react and meet our responsibilities. We will make important decisions such as the possibility of closing program sites only if absolutely necessary. Below is our plan to respond to what we know now and what we can control to keep communication open and lessen the impact on everyone at Sunshine Village.
To date, we started an even more robust cleaning and disinfecting protocol for all of our sites. We have also begun handwashing and coughing instruction and regular reminders. There will be a fun contest to encourage peer-to-peer education on proper techniques and their importance in fighting the spread of germs. We are also utilizing all available hand sanitizing options and encouraging all who are sick to stay home. We are also restricting visitors to our sites and are assessing community access for the individuals we serve. Sunshine Village is committed to providing you with updates as appropriate and will communicate information to you in three ways:
- The most current information, including potential closings, will be updated on our website’s homepage www.sunshine.us
- Email and letter will be used whenever possible for important, but less time sensitive information
- Personal phone calls for individual specific issues and concerns.
We ask that you notify your program site of all planned travel for your loved one, yourself, or for any family or friends that come into contact with your loved one, so that we can give further instructions based on our compliance with state or federal recommendations. We also recommend that you visit the following state website for further information on travel precautions: mass.gov/2019coronavirus
Please contact your program manager or case manager at (413)592-6142 with any questions or concerns. Thank you for your support as we respond to this ongoing situation.
CC: Department of Developmental Services
Please adhere to Sunshine Village’s policy on remaining at home with a fever. To lessen the risk of becoming infected with COVID-19, we encourage you to abide by these CDC guidelines:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick