Many people with intellectual disability have health conditions that put them at higher risk, especially those adults living in or attending high-risk congregate care settings, where COVID-19 tends to rapidly spread. To address this, Drs. Jasmina Sisirak and Beth Marks with the HealthMattersTM Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago were awarded a grant from the UIC’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science COVID-19 Pilot Grant Program. Their project "Virtual Coach: HealthMattersTM Google Classroom to Support Frontline Staff to Protect People with ID During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic“ was funded for one year in 2021. This project collected information and produced a training program with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Project involved undertaking a national survey, which was done in late summer of 2020 to learn more about how community-based organizations that provide services to people with intellectual disability were preparing and responding to COVID-19 pandemic. The results were collated with other information, along with public input and discussions with national organizations, and used to produce technical materials useful for the provider sector. Articles of interest related to COVID-19 and intellectual disability were compiled into a bibliography.
The Project also applied the Virtual Coach: HealthMattersTM Google Classroom to determine if this online, any-time, anywhere health promotion training program can effectively get front-line staff and people with intellectual disability to follow public health guidelines and stay safe and healthy. The Virtual Coach HealthMattersTM Classroom used lessons from the HealthMatters Program's Administration on Community Living approved, evidence-based HealthMattersTM Program and Health Matters Curriculum for people with intellectual disability and their front-line supports to understand, consider, and communicate health behaviors during and after the pandemic. The HealthMattersTM Program maintains the Virtual Coach Classroom (open-sourced) at www.HealthMattersProgram.org. For more information on the Project.
The NTG agreed to be a collaborating partner in the Project and to aid with the survey and training development aspects. Other partners included ACCSES and the YAI organization.