The Inglis Foundation
Once you really start listening and taking advantage of what they can do, it changes the whole dynamic… it’s amazing what talent they bring to the table.”
Just before dying of scarlet fever in 1875, young, wheelchair-bound Annie C. Inglis gave her mother a gold coin and told about her wish that it be used to establish a home for impoverished, severely disabled individuals in Philadelphia, PA.
Today, residents at Inglis House -- the home Annie inspired -- are taking her dream to new heights. With guidance from Action Pact Development’s team of Household Model experts, they and their caregivers are helping lead the transformation of the traditional nursing facility into a warm environment they can truly call home.
“People are conditioned in a lot of organizations to not expect their voices to be heard,” say Gavin Kerr, President and CEO of Inglis Foundation. “But once you really start listening and taking advantage of what they can do, it changes the whole dynamic... it’s amazing what talent they bring to the table.”
The “table” in this case is Action Pact Development’s integrated prefeasibility analysis (IPA), a process that brings all stakeholder groups together with consultants to examine the architectural, operational, cultural and financial variables in determining the viability of the organization to create households.
“It’s terrific,” Kerr says of Action Pact Development’s IPA process. “I’ve done a lot of work with integrated design efforts, and they just work so much better.”
Dozens of residents and staff spoke passionately during six intensive days of meetings with managers, executives, family members and stakeholders from across the organization. While appreciating Inglis as a good place to live, residents said they feel powerless and lack the independence they crave in the current model of care. They, and caregivers too, said they sometimes feel disrespected, frustrated and angry in the institutional environment.
They talked about what home means to them and how households might look, feel and function at Inglis. Together with other stakeholders, they hammered out project goals and design principles.
Despite communication difficulties arising from their many disabilities, residents shaped the discussion.
The Inglis journey to change began when Kerr and the board of directors pondered whether they could enjoy living at Inglis House, home to 297 persons living with quadraplegia and paraplegia.
“We realized none of us would choose to live in the current environment,” says Kerr.
All agreed that residents deserve a far better home than the institutional model provides, but Kerr feared the deep cultural, architectural and environmental changes required by the Household Model were beyond reach for Inglis House – a nonprofit totally dependent on Medicaid reimbursements.
That was before the IPA with Action Pact Development. Today, Kerr is ready for the next step of organizational transformation and household planning.
“I’ve worked with large financial-planning firms and boutique ones, and the work we did with Steve, Martin and the Action Pact Development team is as good as any I’ve ever done,” says Kerr. “Having the financial and architectural pieces on the screen while Steve facilitated made complex issues understandable and was a really effective way to engage people.”
Kerr’s main concern about the viability of the Household Model is the uncertainty of future Medicaid reimbursement rates, which already have declined at Inglis by 19.5 percent over the last six years. Action Pact Development consultants, he says, “helped us see how and why households can still work, the threshold of Medicaid reimbursement necessary and where it would no longer make sense.”
They examined a wide variety of cost categories and staffing ratios and concluded that operating under the Household Model would cost no more than in the current Inglis model.
Household construction would be paid for through a combination of endowment funds, limited debt and future fundraising. Significant investment is already needed merely to maintain the current model in a building constructed in 1922 that is in serious need of renovation. “If we spend twice as much constructing households, we will get a whole lot more,” Kerr says. “Our return on investment in the Household Model from a mission point of view is awesome.”
“The Household Model will better position Inglis with potential donors to help pay for construction – we’ve already gotten strong indications of support from several key donors,” he says. “It’s a whole lot more compelling for a donor to support a household rather than the traditional institutional approach.”
“It is almost immoral not to move forward when you know there is a better way,” he concludes.
No doubt, Annie C. Inglis would agree.
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