By Jill Rafferty-Weinisch, Strategic Director of Vocational, Day, and Community Supports
In 2019 and 2020, the leases on all three of Wildwood’s Day Program facility buildings were coming due. There were many ways in which the spaces in Clifton Park and Albany were not ideal, and after 20 years in the same location, the New Karner space was in need of a facelift.
A group of program directors began to examine where the people who attend the programs live. Many people were spending long periods of time in transit, and the bus routes were not efficient. It was determined that Wildwood could better serve people in eastern Albany County and Rensselaer County if the Albany-based program was moved farther to the east. A site for that program was found in a new construction complex in East Greenbush. Wildwood also decided to relocate the existing Clifton Park site to nearby Halfmoon. As a result, there has been a significant reduction to the time people spend in transportation, and services are being provided for people closer to their own communities.
A lot of thought went into the structural and aesthetic design of these new facilities, with input from staff, family members, and the people who use them. These design features include:
· Easy, safe, pick-up and drop-off spaces for buses
· Abundant natural light
· Multiple spaces within the building that allow people to spread out and engage in activities they find interesting
· New vinyl plank flooring that helps absorb sound and is easy to clean.
· Paint colors picked specifically because they produce less stress for people with sensory challenges
· Easy to clean surfaces throughout.
· Restrooms that are all gender-neutral and single-occupancy to provide flexibility and privacy
· Shower and laundry facilities in all sites
· Lockers for all participants and staff so they can store their personal belongings
· Expanded computer labs to accommodate more users
· Plenty of storage for supplies to prevent clutter that can cause anxiety
· Dedicated spaces for arts and crafts
· New kitchen spaces to support cooking activities
· Outdoor areas adjacent to all three sites.
· Comfortable staff lounges for our DSP teams
· A layout and design with features that allow us to observe people and keep them safe, at a distance that also affords them independence (such as windows in interior walls)
· Locations that support volunteer and recreation activities with community partners
The Halfmoon-based Riverside location opened in September 2019, and the feedback that has been received has been very positive. The completion of the Pinecrest site in East Greenbush and the renovation at the New Karner location came just prior to the March closure of day programs due to the coronavirus. Many of the changes that were made during the initial renovation process (spread out program spaces, easy to disinfect surfaces, bus routes dedicated to a single program) have positioned the program directors and DSPs well in order to implement infection-control strategies.
Now that Dayhabs are beginning a re-opening process, everyone is looking forward to enjoying the new spaces!