DDS Case Manager Supervisors nurture HOPE and independence
Home and Community-Based Waiver Services (HCBS) create HOPE every day by increasing independence and quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. A critical part of these services are the Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) Case Managers who work hand-in-hand with the individuals, their families and service providers to meet the specific needs of the individuals they are serving through a custom-tailored annual plan of care.
The team of DDS Case Managers and their supervisors are responsible for providing support to individuals with disabilities and their families, as well as monitoring the implementation of each individual’s annual plan of care. Along the way, our case managers can become an extension of each individual’s family, offering help and hope in some truly remarkable ways.
James Griffin, Area I DDS Field Manager says that his case management supervisors are a guiding force and lead their teams of case managers through often difficult processes.
“I have had the privilege of working alongside Ron Porter over the years, and he is an excellent example of fostering hope through actions and leadership,” said Griffin. “In the time I have known him, Ron has repeatedly given his personal time to help share hope with those in need. A few years ago, he organized a group of volunteers to assist a customer’s mother with badly needed repairs on her home. This was not a one-time incident, as Ron just recently volunteered to coordinate an effort to assist an elderly mother clean and organize her home so that her disabled daughter could return to the home.”
Porter’s passion for helping others began at a young age, and his 12 years with OKDHS has allowed him to continue his personal mission to provide HOPE to his community. Since he began working at OKDHS, he has also served as an associate pastor for Frontline Ministries in Kingfisher. Through this work, his ministry has been able partner with Child Welfare Services to provide “Soft Landings” for families engaging with OKDHS, including a church space to facilitate family meetings and visitations, among many other things, all within a comfortable, home-like setting. He also continually finds special ways to serve his customers and their families when they need him most.
“My staff are amazing at catching the vision of Developmental Disabilities Services, and I believe they share the same passion as I do to bring as much independence to our customers as possible,” said Porter. “My position at OKDHS has also afforded me the opportunity to serve our customers by officiating funerals for those we have lost, partnering with families to assist in supplying food or clothing, and even remodeling homes to help our customers move freely. HOPE has changed my life, and through my position at OKDHS, I am able be a part of a strong team of folks who have a heart to assist Oklahomans in need. There is no better place of balance today in my life than the cohesive work of the ministry and my job at OKDHS.”
La’Tasha Ingram, Area II DDS Field Administrator, also remarks that her case management supervisors lead by example, particularly in this difficult last year.
“Lisa Brunson-Smith is a DDS Case Management Supervisor who has worked in Rogers, Washington and Tulsa counties,” said Ingram. “Her case management group experienced some difficult times during the last year with the death of a staff complicated by COVID, and a staff losing their spouse. Lisa has led her team during these tragedies with empathy, compassion and sincerity. She worked with the family of her staff who passed away and decided to plant a tree in her honor to assist with the grieving process.”
However, Brunson-Smith’s compassionate actions are just part of her core. Some time ago, she forewent front-row tickets at a much-anticipated concert in favor of helping customers in need.
On this particular occasion, Brunson-Smith and Ingram assisted Adult Protective Services (APS) with two brothers who were coming under APS guardianship and needed immediate services. They sat with the gentlemen for most of the day, feeding and entertaining them, while also completing all of the documentation and interviews needed to get them quickly into services.
“Once it was determined that APS would petition the court that day, we went about finding an agency to immediately serve them,” said Brunson-Smith. “Immediately serve them, like right that second. There were too many arrangements made in such a short period of time, I don’t know how we did it. Adult and Family Services helped us with emergency SNAP, and the provider agency sent two staff 50 miles to pick up two gentlemen they had never met, getting them clothing and a motel while they worked to find more permanent supports.”
After the brothers were safe, Brunson-Smith, Ingram and APS worked to secure their much-needed medications from the home from which they were just removed, then checked, documented and counted the medications for duplicates and expirations. This process and the medication’s eventual delivery to the brothers and their new caretakers took them long into the night, but Brunson-Smith said it was time well spent, and a concert well-missed, to keep the gentlemen safe.
Benny Gullick, Area III DDS Field Manager, will be losing one of his treasured case management supervisors, Donna Inslee, to retirement this fall. Inslee has worked for OKDHS for over 30 years and has helped her team, and her own family, navigate some very difficult challenges over the last year.
Inslee was diagnosed with cancer in Jan. 2020, just before the pandemic hit, and underwent surgery and treatments through August. In the midst of her treatments, her husband, Glenn, suffered a stroke and she and their children were only able to see him through the window of his skilled nursing facility until his return home a month later. Thankfully, both of them are now doing well.
While dealing with her own health issues and those of her husband, Inslee also led her team through the agency’s transition to telework. Her staff stepped up to take care of business on the days Inslee was unable to, and their team continued to provide excellent service to their consumers even while taking on a great number of additional cases, which is a testament to the leadership Inslee has provided over the years.
“Area III is very excited for Donna and this next chapter of her life, although she will be greatly missed by all of us,” said Gullick. “Without the leadership and training Donna has provided, and the self-confidence that Donna has nurtured with each of those in her unit, it would have been a much more difficult past year and a half for all of them.”
“DDS case management supervisors wear many hats - coaches, cheerleaders, innovators, mentors, and problem-solvers,” said Beth Scrutchins, DDS Director. “The guidance they provide for their units and teams are critical to our mission of providing high-quality services and opportunities to individuals with developmental disabilities and their families.”
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