Curative Care Network is a non-profit serving children and adults with disabilities at seven locations in southeastern Wisconsin. As its mission statement reads, “Curative Care Network improves the function and quality of life for persons with disabilities or limiting conditions through high quality care and services.” At Curative, HTI graduate Kelly Cunningham is currently developing an HT program in adult day services.
She got started this summer. “At Curative, people set new goals to gain more independence every six months. My idea is to include HT in those goals. This summer, I started getting some clients more familiar with plants as a way to get information about HT out there. They enjoyed the activity and wanted to know when they could do it again,” Cunningham reports. She also participated in an informal expo for people with disabilities where Curative was exhibiting. “We did interactive gardening, standing or sitting, including with wheelchairs to show people how adaptive gardening can work for them. It was great, we got people interested.”
Aligning activities with clients’ needs
Cunningham was already working at Curative while finishing up the certificate program at HTI. She felt there was an interest about setting up a program because HT fits nicely with Curative’s mission and goals. “I got in touch with the director of day programming who had some ideas of her own. After promoting the idea this summer, I am working on the project. My goal is to offer it in all seven locations. I will be at one location and they will come to me though I will start by going out to all the locations with my tools,” Cunningham, who holds other responsibilities, says.
Goals might revolve around working on fine motor skills or standing up for a certain amount of time, for example. One location is equipped with a wheelchair garden. Others have small gardening areas. Details still need to be firmed up. “The main idea is to serve the client. At first, I will have to build trust between me and the clients.” Cunningham got interested in HT while doing an internship for her associate degree in horticulture. Her mentor mentioned HT, which Cunningham had never heard of. She signed up for HTI’s classes (“I enjoyed my time at HTI and I had a great supervisor with tons of fantastic ideas,” she says). To this day, her supervisor is helping her develop her program. As of our latest exchange, Cunningham was making progress. “I’ve met with the director of day services to discuss incorporating HT into day services. Each client’s goals is based on outcomes and focus areas that curative has created. I have created a chart showing which focus areas HT activities could help clients reach their goals, along with a 12-month plan of sample activities. From here the goal is to create a pilot program based on client goals.”