What is Talahi Senior Campus and why is it an important model of community integration at Opportunity Services?

Ed Talahi
Talahi Senior Campus is a nursing home facility in St. Cloud. The work team at Talahi is a great example of community integration for people with disabilities. Opportunity Services clients provide housekeeping to three different wings of the facility in addition to common areas. The Opportunity Services work team arrives to and from the job site independently, thanks to the amazing transportation system and training programs available to the community members of St. Cloud. The job coaches at Talahi have encouraged clients to become independent and assist them to make their own decisions on-the-job. Clients also rotate being the leader throughout the week. When each client has the opportunity to be the leader for the day, they assign other team members tasks and keep track of additional cleaning schedules. This gives every client the opportunity to work on his or her own decision-making skills.If you visit Talahi, you may not even know who is who- the Talahi staff and Opportunity Services clients are together, working without constant supervision or guidance. Many clients have “quantum leaped” from the work team to independent employment at Talahi as they build confidence in their decision-making skills. Clients at Talahi have the ability to experience their own job in the community, without losing all the supports they may need to succeed.

Why is this community-model important? Last August, the State of Minnesota passed the Olmstead Plan. The Olmstead Plan focuses on community integration for people with disabilities. This will ensure people with disabilities are provided equal opportunity for living, learning, working and enjoying life in an integrated setting. Basically the Olmstead Plan will ensure Minnesotans with disabilities have the same opportunities and choice as everyone else. The community integration at Talahi Senior Campus is a great example of the Olmstead Plan at work. Opportunity Services clients are surrounded by their peers and other employees where they have the same opportunities to succeed as everyone else and gain independent employment.

The community integration at Talahi Senior Campus is also important because of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). WIOA was passed in 2014 to help job seekers access employment, education, training and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with the skilled workers they need to compete in the economy. Young adults were the focus of this act and after July 2016 those individuals under the age of 24 years of age can no longer be paid subminimum wage on a work team. Since many clients have “quantum leaped” from work team to independent employment at Talahi, those clients on-site under 24 are already getting ready for jobs of their own. The model demonstrated at Talahi is a great example of the continuing changes to disability legislation. Talahi Senior Campus and Opportunity Services have found a synergic relationship that benefits all parties and provides adults with disabilities the choice to work in an integrated setting.