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Aspire staffer's use of technology helps clients with disabilities, garners award

Aberdeen American News - 6/12/2019

Jun. 12--To some self-reliance is a given, for others it's a gift.

Samantha Glover is a giver of independence. The freedom she gives the clients she works with on a daily basis is assisted by various technology platforms and interfaces.

Glover is the latest Aspire staff member to be recognized as the South Dakota Direct Support Professional of the Year. She also garnered an additional award for innovation. She traveled to Portland, Ore., in May to accept the honors, bestowed the American Network of Community Options and Resources, a trade group of providers of services to people with disabilities.

She has a very matter-of-fact approach to technology.

"I'm assuming all of us use technology in our daily living. Each day it's growing and becoming more a part of our everyday life," Glover said at Aspire earlier this month. "I think it's another way of making (clients) feel more empowered to live like everyone else."

Glover works with about 15 people with varying abilities.

"I work with individuals who live in the community on their own. My main thing is assisting them with shopping, financial needs and medication. One is very completely independent, but the apps he uses -- he's nonverbal -- his apps we teach him on are completely different than someone else's," Glover said.

Applications on tablets and smartphones allow some people with disabilities an easier way to communicate. Others use interfaces like Skype or FaceTime to keep in touch with family and friends. In turn, staff members use the devices to check in on clients who, without that technology, wouldn't be able to live on their own.

Workers will call to make sure someone has taken his or her medication, is cleaning up or to offer other gentle reminders. Sometimes it's just a friendly conversation.

"We take for granted the technology readily available for us. People that we serve have historically relied on a staff person for that direct level of support," said Jennifer Grey, executive director of Aspire.

"They feel important not to have to rely on me to be able to do those things," Glover said.

Along with using apps and the internet, clients are taught internet safety and are coached on what to look for. If they aren't sure if something is safe, they know to alert a staff member. It takes a well-cultivated level of trust from both clients and Aspire staff when it comes to the nuances of using technology.

"When you have that relationship, they are comfortable discussing with you things that are weird," Glover said.

"Sometimes people don't realize how many people we serve who are independently living because of staff like Sam. They are tenants, they're out and shopping, they're active, they're our neighbors and part of our community," Gray said. "We're just on the tip of what's possible to try and fully utilize technology in our services. The people who are pretty independent is a good place to start."

Glover is not an attention seeker and said that her success is a team effort under great leadership. She was thankful for the opportunity to go to Portland because there were some breakout sessions in her line of expertise. As for the clients she's worked with for five years, well, she didn't anticipate the closeness of those relationships.

"I have three kids they know. When I go to work it's not work to me, it's just like a second family. Empowering them to do their best and being part of the community is pretty great," Glover said.

Follow @Kelda_aan on Twitter.

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(c)2019 the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.)

Visit the American News (Aberdeen, S.D.) at www.aberdeennews.com

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