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How People with Disabilities Are Adapting to COVID-19 Precautions

Liz Lerner

Organizations that serve people with disabilities are working hard to help them adapt to social distancing and protect them from COVID-19.

Staff at Cape Abilities and The Arc are doing grocery shopping and other things for their clients that they would normally do together. And they’re trying to help people stay connected at a time when in-person social activities are shut down.

The Arc of the Outer Cape & Islands serves people who live independently.

Executive Director Rob Spongberg says staff are calling every day to check on them and remind them to be careful.

“We are right now doing for them as opposed to doing with them,” he said. “And that's really to try and keep them as safe as we possibly can.”

Some clients’ homemaker services have stopped coming in, so The Arc is trying to make sure they keep up with things like washing dishes.

Disabled people are missing out on the same social and physical activities as everyone else.

Cape Abilities operates group homes that now have to be staffed 24/7, because day programs aren’t running. Visitors, including family, are no longer allowed.

Jonathan Sproul, CEO of Cape Abilities, said the staff is working to keep residents active. A fundraising effort allowed them to buy iPads for every home and raise the pay of workers going into the homes.

Sproul said everyone is pushing through this together.

“It's hard, you know. But it … can bring out the best in people and really shows how resilient the people we serve are,” he said.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.