Based in Millinocket, Maine with offices in Bangor and Portland, KFI has been providing employment services as well as community and home supports for people with disabilities since 1962.
Leveraging close community connections
KFI staff recognize the importance of leveraging close community connections in a way that complements the direct supports they provide. The staff at KFI know almost everyone in the town so it is easy to connect other community members to individuals supported by KFI. Their philosophy on community inclusion is, “it’s not buildings and places, it’s people.” The staff KFI hire need to be joiners who participate in their communities. KFI not only wants the individuals they serve to be present and active in the community, they need them to be, since the near 24/7 support they provide cannot be maintained by staff alone; establishing natural supports in the community is a must. Whether that’s grocery store staff helping an individual shop, an individual working on their own in a thrift store, or church members going over to an individual’s house to eat, KFI looks for every possible way to get the most out of their small community regardless that it lacks the established infrastructures a large city provides. For example, while interviewing one individual, a community member stopped at his volunteer location just to check and see if he needed a lift home. This individual pays the community member a small monthly stipend cover her gas for his occasional lifts around town.
Reversing the typical staff ratio
In contrast to most provider ratios, KFI have teams of several staff members supporting one person. Because of this unique system they are able to offer 1 to 1 support to many individuals at once via a rotating weekly schedule where a staff spends 1 to 5 hours with one individual and then goes on to support another, sometimes in the same day. Other individuals have staff live with them at their house in revolving, 56-hour shifts. This staff flexibility allows for variation in the individual’s schedule, discourages “programming”, and maintains KFI’s “person centered thinking” ideals. Support providers actually become experts on the individual they support and are seen as his/her staff. Individuals reportedly respond well to the rotating staff (perhaps because it more authentically represents how people spend their days, with a variety of people rather than just one). The added benefits are that each staff member brings their own interests to the individual for them to explore and it makes the training and fading of staff that much easier as the one new face is still surrounded by several familiar ones who know the individual’s routine inside and out. Furthermore, transportation barriers are addressed as support providers use their own cars and are reimbursed for the miles. This allows for flexibility to mold to people’s busy schedules.
Benchmarking and ensuring high quality
To facilitate the amount of flexibility allowed staff, KFI prioritizes staff training and encourages their feedback to make sure an individual’s goals are being met and that the individual is continually afforded full choice (including the occasional bad choice) in what activities they want to do. KFI has frequent staff meetings, pre-established quarterly goals, and required benchmark reports. Goals are intentional but with a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to carrying them out on a regular basis. It’s up to the direct support professionals to modify activities to meet individual goals and interests. KFI compares themselves to Cirque Du Solei in that while the feats the people are performing may seem very impressive, there’s a whole group of people behind the scenes who you never see helping make it all run smoothly. They encourage staff to stay anonymous and behind the scenes.
KFI has a very clear, strong, philosophical approach in everything they do, including how their supports are designed and delivered. In fact, the values are in every aspect of the organizational culture from the hiring, to training, to individualized and highly flexible supports. For KFI, Community Life Engagement is all about building experiences for people and creating opportunities for individuals to be engaged in natural settings. Their services do not involve person centered planning so much, as person-centered thinking throughout all aspects of the organization.
The organization stresses the importance of having one’s own home because the home is the place where social connections occur because you invite people over and people host you. Finally, social role valorization and the perception of competence are traits KFI stresses for all people they serve.
1024 Central Street, Suite A
Millinocket, ME 04462
Phone: (207) 723-9466
Fax: (207) 723-5099