By Kristen Heichel, CQL Quality Enhancement Specialist
Welcome House, Inc. is an organization with strong culture of dignity and respect, which is an integral and apparent part of all they do within the Westlake, Ohio Area. The organization is truly committed to helping people live their best lives of their choosing as part of the person-centered culture of “The Welcome House Way”.
My colleague Erica Robinson, CQL Quality Enhancement Specialist, and I were fortunate to work with such a great organization where communication is seen as a strength and people are treated as unique and celebrated individuals. Since the last CQL Quality Assurances Accreditation, which was their first, the organization has made tremendous strides in aligning systems and practices with Basic Assurances® as part of a quality transformation within the organization.
Based on conversations and observations made during our visits, relationships are truly nurtured within Welcome House. People are in meaningful relationships of their choosing, and the staff support them in creating new relationships through important community connections. People are working, volunteering, and spending within their Westlake community.
I was able to visit their day program, which provides services to 30-40 people from Westlake area. People are able to work on various projects, including an impressive undertaking of woodworking, cement work, and painting various decorative creations to sell. One gentleman with significant health needs was happily sanding away with a power sander and seemed to be having an amazing time! The group excitedly shared a photo album of beautiful pictures which capture all of the places they have gone to this year. People in this program also volunteer at various places, and it seems to bring a lot of joy and reciprocity to them. They are even working on a microbusiness, creating various handmade decorations including wood working, cement work, and painting. Complete with power tools! The staff are extremely creative and motivated to help people have the best experiences of their lives and it clearly comes across.
This organization’s commitment to fostering independence and dignity for the people they support is clear from everything they do, and it was inspiring to experience in person and see them grow as an organization throughout the CQL Accreditation Process.
About Welcome House, Inc.
Welcome House currently provides residential services to over 200 people with intellectual developmental disabilities (IDD) every day in a total of 45 residential sites. The residential program creates a supportive atmosphere in which the people of the homes can develop independence and a sense of competence by experiencing success at home and in the community. They are committed to ensuring excellence in care, compassion, and the services we provide.
Welcome House was established in 1972 by a group of parents and people with developmental disabilities. They sought to create a home in Cleveland’s western suburbs where their adult children could live when their families could no longer care for them. The first group home opened in 1981 and housed eight men who lived in that home for the remainder of their lives.
This past March, they achieved Quality Assurances Accreditation. We asked Erica Giaimo, Welcome House, Inc. Quality Assurance Director, a series of questions about who they are as an organization, along with their experience with the CQL Accreditation process.
What are your goals as an organization?
Our goal is to create a full spectrum of residential and community-based services, which would provide a variety of living situations for people with IDD. We attempt to meet each person’s mental, physical, and social needs by actively seeking out individual strengths, interests or talents and building on them. In essence, the goal of Welcome House is to aim for each person’s maximum potential in developing and maintaining a well-balanced and personally satisfying life.
How did you prepare for your CQL Accreditation?
We formed a CQL Committee that focused on the Basic Assurances®. The committee met monthly to review each Factor and develop an action plan to address any unmet Indicators. The QA Director met with each department to train on the relevant Basic Assurances® areas and complete the self-assessment. As the date got closer, the committee solicited volunteers for the Focus Groups, arranged site visits and Personal Outcome Measures® (POM) interviews.
What is one specific aspect or area of your organization that has improved as a result of your accreditation?
Through the accreditation process, we have built-in more agency-wide direct interactions with the people we support. Between completing in-person routine assessments, informed consents and POM interviews, to hosting trainings, focus, and self-advocacy groups for the people we support, we feel more connected than ever to what people want out of their lives and services. Moreover, by refining our complaint procedure and implementing person-directed house meetings, people have more opportunities to communicate their preferences, opinions, and concerns.
How do you measure quality at your organization?
In the past, we have struggled to measure the quality of our services. CQL provided a framework to define quality in order to develop quality benchmarks for our services. In 2021, during our first round of accreditation, we developed an agency-wide data dashboard that includes data points from each department within the organization. Some quality measures we utilize are percentage of people participating in the community; number and type of complaints; average evacuation time during fire and emergency drills; and turnover and retention rate. The data that we have collected is analyzed by our Corporate Compliance Committee quarterly and has provided valuable insight into the quality of our services.
How do you envision the future of your partnership with CQL?
CQL provides a beacon of light to guide our efforts during uncertain times. We plan to continue to utilize the webinars, trainings, and materials to further refine our services. POM interviews continue to provide valuable insights into people’s lives and what they want. In the future, we would like to pursue the Person-Centered Excellence Accreditation.
Have questions about CQL Accreditation?
# # #
Since 1969, CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has been a leader in working with human service organizations and systems to continuously define, measure, and improve quality of life and quality of services for youth, adults, and older adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and psychiatric disabilities. CQL offers accreditation, training, certification, research, and consultation services to agencies that share our vision of dignity, opportunity, and community for all people.
Ohio Quality Standards Crosswalk
CQL | The Council on Quality and Leadership has produced this crosswalk to demonstrate the practical application of CQL quality enhancement tools to Ohio’s compliance standards that were developed by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD).Get The Guide