For the past six years, The Chapter’s Home LINKS (Live Independently Navigating Key Services) program has helped people with MS maintain their quality of life and independence by connecting them to resources and services in the community and creating a safe home environment.
Home LINKS is a short-term care management program which provides information and referral, services coordination, and goal oriented case management. Our goal is to help stabilize a person and his/her family during times of difficulty or crisis. Our dedicated care managers typically meet with clients in their homes, and together develop and prioritize a list of the issues to be addressed. We then help people research and locate services, resources, and supports. A crucial component to the program is assisting people navigate the complicated system of social services and programs.
The physical, emotional, and social challenges of MS vary among individuals, and our Home LINKS care managers often comment how different each person’s needs are. We helped one young mother who lost custody of her daughter when an exacerbation left her unable to parent. The care manager worked with a team of providers to help this woman find housing, appropriate in-home supports, medical care, and eventually regain custody of her child. In another example, Home LINKS provided support to a caregiver who was overwhelmed caring for an adult sibling with MS and an elderly mother at the same time. The care manager helped the family obtain home care services, including a doctor who makes home visits, veteran’s benefits, and financial assistance in the community.
In Massachusetts, Home LINKS has been a successful public-private partnership with the State Department of Public Health to assist individuals with MS. Funds raised by the Chapter provide considerable resources to support the program, yet we can not offer the range of quality services available without additional funding from the Commonwealth. Current economic realities have resulted in significant reductions in funding from the state and have had an impact on the overall revenue of the chapter as well. Despite these challenges, we remain committed to helping people with MS who are most in need and we are actively advocating to restore our funding streams.
The Home LINKS program is also available to those with MS in New Hampshire and we are moving forward to expand the program to residents who live in Vermont and Maine as well. If you have questions about the Home LINKS Program or think you can benefit from services, please contact Dawn Russo at 781-693-5155.
We all want to talk to someone who has “been there.” Whether you have a new symptom, questions about treatments or just need an understanding ear to bend, the Chapter’s two-part Peer Support Training program will provide participants with the information and skill building opportunities to engage in peer to peer telephone support through the National MS Society.
People who have lived with MS for at least two years, their spouses, partners, parents, adult children (over 18 years), or siblings who wish to support others are encouraged to apply for this comprehensive and stimulating training program entitled Someone to Listen.
The training program will take place on Saturday, May 8 and Saturday, May 15, from 10a.m. - 3p.m. at the offices of Granite State Independent Living Program in Concord, New Hampshire. Attendance at both sessions is required.
For further information or to apply, contact Judy Cotton, Director of Chapter Services at 800-344-4867.
Kids Get MS Too: Snow Tubing!
It was freezing cold on Saturday, January 30, but that did not matter to our intrepid group of snow tubers! Seven families with a child or teen with MS joined together for this fun and chilly day in Westford, Mass. Together with staff from the Partner’s Pediatric MS Center at MassGeneral Hospital in Boston and the Chapter, these families braved the cold and then warmed up over lunch. Following lunch, the kids, teens and parents broke into groups to get to know each other better. Kids and teens networked and talked candidly as a group about how MS has affected them, impacted their friendships, and forced them to grow up faster than their peers. Parents had an opportunity to learn more about eating well with MS, vitamin D, and school accommodations and resources. This full day program provided fun, education and socialization for families living with pediatric MS!
Exchange Point- Volunteer Fun!
Nine young adults with MS and their six guests attended the 2nd Annual Exchange Point Volunteer Fun event at the Chapter’s Waltham office on February 6. During this four hour event, the group assisted the chapter in starting the two separate walker mailings that will be sent to over 12,000 walkers chapterwide. They labeled the first 2,000 walk registration packets and assembled 3,500 “Preparing for the Day” walker packets. While networking and mingling with their peers this group truly made a difference in preparing for the upcoming Spring 2010 MSWalk season! A huge thank you to all of the young adults who attended this event!
Holiday Party - Castle of Knights, Chicopee, MA
The 2009 Holiday Party held on December 6 brought 96 people with MS, their family members and friends together to celebrate the holiday season. McDonald’s generously donated Happy Meals for the children, while the adults enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner. Santa’s visit was a big hit when he gave gifts for children 12 and under, some of which were donated by local toy stores. Party-goers above the age of 12 had the opportunity to exchange presents by participating in the Grab Bag gift swap or by winning one of the beautiful items from the raffle. The Holiday Party continues to be a festive, enjoyable event bringing many old friends together and forming many new connections.
Vermont Regional Office Open House
Held at the office in Williston on November 20, more than 30 members attended and took the opportunity to meet with Chapter Staff including Leadership Team Members Arlyn White, Linda Guiod, Brenda Barbour, and Renee Shea.
Moving Forward Together Conference
Moving Forward Together Conference was held in Montpelier VT at the Capitol Plaza Hotel and Conference Center on November 21. Topics included MS Research, Planning for Life with an Unpredictable Disease (Symptom & Treatment Management) and Employment Issues and featured speakers Hillel Panitch, MD; Sandra McGrath MSN, FNP and Hugh Bradshaw. Over 35 individuals attended and were able to learn about the new Chapter realignment and visit information tables on MS, Fundraising, Advocacy and Volunteerism. Evaluation results: average age from 43-64, 37% in attendance were male and 62% female, 56% were people with MS (most people attending came with a spouse/partner or friend); 95% of attendees learned something new from all of the speakers, 85% will talk to their healthcare provider about something they learned at the conference.