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NDEAM: Supporting Staff through Accommodations

Updated: Nov 6, 2019



Supportive employment job coaches tend to be caring people. But there may be an extra level of understanding toward those with disabilities that comes from needing accommodations of your own.

“When you think about it, we all have limitations,” said Kaitlyn Kregel, a Regional Director for CHOICE Employment Services in Decorah, Ia. “We all have talents -- and we all have things that we can’t do so well.”

Like most workers in the supportive employment field, she said she believes having a weakness shouldn’t stop anyone from getting a job in the community. CHOICE job coaches work with employees who have disabilities until they can work a job on their own.

Kaitlyn has had her own medical concern; disabling back problems, which she thought she had under control.

“I started working at CHOICE Employment full-time at the beginning of June,” said the recent Wartburg graduate. “I thought I had my back pain finally under control. At the beginning of July, I was stranded on my bedroom floor once again in extreme pain. After many doctor visits, physical therapy, an MRI and meeting with a neurologist [I learned that] at the age of 22 I needed to have back surgery.”

She had started work two months earlier, and had no vacation or sick time built up. What she needed most was for CHOICE to hold her position.

“That, and the flexibility to know if I was having a rough day, I could scoot,” she said recently, now fully recovered from a successful surgery.

The accommodation her bosses gave her: When the pain got too bad, she went home. Plus, when she went for surgery, Kaitlyn’s position awaited her return. Her fellow regional directors served the consumers on her caseload, and shared the supervision of her job coaches.

Kaitlyn before heading into surgery.

While in recovery, stuck in bed, she thought about how accepting a job offer at CHOICE Employment was one of the best decisions she has made. And that other employers could benefit from CHOICE’s example.

“I think about how if I had taken one of those other job offers how my life would be different,” she said. “The CHOICE Team has been more than accommodating during this process.”

Home after a successful surgery!

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