By Shari Harris, Co-Managing Editor
Ozark Independent Living (O.I.L.) is a non-profit organization located in West Plains which serves people with disabilities in a multi-county area, including Texas County. Since 1996, they have worked to fulfill their mission: “to empower people with disabilities to live as full and productive members of society.”
Executive Director John Adamson explained the three programs offered by O.I.L. as “giving people the tools to stay at home and be independent.” While their programs are well known closer to West Plains, he hopes to make people in the more northern reaches of their region aware of what they can offer.
The Independent Living Services (ILS) component of O.I.L. helps people with disabilities learn interview and job skills and offers resources for finding durable medical equipment and other necessities. They also offer outreach and can help businesses and municipalities become ADA compliant. The Wildflower Cafe, located a short distance from O.I.L. on Aid Avenue, is a result of a partnership between O.I.L. and local schools. It is a real-life training experience teaching life skills, job skills, customer service and more to two to three students at a time who face learning challenges. The cafe is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Consumer Directed Services (CDS) assists qualifying individuals to hire personal care assistants of their own choosing to help with self-care and housekeeping. To qualify, individuals must be eligible for Missouri Medicaid, be at least 18 years of age, have a physical disability and meet a need-assessed Level of Care. Covered services include meal preparation and clean-up; personal care; transfer of an individual to a chair, wheelchair or walker; household tasks like laundry and cleaning; and transportation for shopping. Family members and friends may be hired as assistants, but not spouses.
Veteran Directed Care (VDC) is similar to CDS, but is limited to veterans. These funds can be used to hire caregivers, including spouses, but may also be budgeted to save back for other necessities vital to allowing the veteran to remain at home, such as a refrigerator or stove. O.I.L.’s VDC services cover a large area, serving veterans who use the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers in Poplar Bluff, Kansas City and St. Louis.
O.I.L., which is funded by a grant from the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation of Missouri and Medicaid-reimbursed programs, employs twenty-two people to meet the needs of the area. Their office, at 109 Aid Avenue in West Plains, offers their ILS and CDS programs to individuals in seven Missouri counties, including Ozark, Douglas, Wright, Texas, Shannon, Oregon and Howell.
If you or a loved one are struggling to remain living in your home, you can contact O.I.L. by phone at 888-440-7500, visit their website at www.ozarkcil.com, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.