Disability involves all aspects of life. A seemingly endless range of information exists on this topic. For this reason, information and referral (I&R) is a core service at the Dayle McIntosh Center.
The purpose of information and referral is to ensure that people have the resources to address specific needs or meet certain aspirations. Nelly Gomez is the I&R Coordinator, however all staff provides this function. As an individual, who is a wheelchair user, Nelly understands how vital having the right information and resources can be for people with disabilities.
Anyone is eligible to receive Information and Referral services through DMC. Most individuals, who request information and referral assistance never become consumers, however, I&R is part of the service plan for most DMC clients. The public at large is also able to request I&R services.
A formal referral process is not relevant to I&R assistance. Many callers contact the center as the result of conducting an internet search regarding disability topic(s). Others learn about DMC as a reference service through friends, family members, neighbors, classmates, and service providers.
The I&R Procedure
A substantial data-base of disability-related information and resources has been compiled by the Dayle McIntosh Center. This data is preserved in electronic format. The data-base is maintained and updated on a regular basis. DMC staff also has access to reference systems developed by other entities such as the Orange County Aging and Disability Resource Center.
When a person contacts DMC to ask for information, the staff member responding to the call checks the center’s data-base to find requested resources. If the desired information is not available, thorough research is then conducted. Finding the right information may take some time. Referrals are provided by phone, by email, or through the regular post. If a contact indicates that the information provided is incorrect or insufficient, further research is pursued. New information is systematically added to the DMC data bank.
The most frequent request for assistance relate to the identification of accessible/affordable housing. Callers also ask for options regarding transportation, aid with utility payments, locations of food pantries, providers of medical supplies, information about various provisions under laws pertaining to disability, accessibility requirements, recreation opportunities, and disability programming.
I&R assistance continues until the desired information has been provided or no additional resources can be identified. Random follow up is made with I&R contacts to ask if they received the information they needed and if the resources provided had an impact on their independence or quality of life.
Program Success Story
In one instance, DMC was contacted by a deaf woman, who had recently had a baby. She was concerned, because she could not hear her baby when he cried. The I&R Coordinator told the new mother about a device that is placed under the crib mattress and, when the infant cries, sends a signal to a lamp on the mother’s bedside table, which would blink to alert her to her infant’s distress. The deaf mom purchased the device and was able to sleep peacefully knowing that she would be aware when her baby needed her.
Another caller requested assistance to locate a resource for aquatic therapy for the purposes of exercise and relaxation. Two resources were provided and the contact was able to obtain a membership in one of the programs.