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AAIDD assists Oregon in successfully completing a pilot project using SIS

In June 2007, the state of Oregon engaged the services of AAIDD to complete a pilot project using SISOnline, the web-based version of the Supports Intensity Scale, to measure the support needs of 400 citizens with intellectual disabilities. During this period, AAIDD supported the state in different capacities, including consulting services in implementing SIS, technical support to collect assessment data, and providing expert interviewers to conduct SIS assessments. Further, in order to ensure the reliability of the assessment data, AAIDD senior SIS trainers also administered inter-rater reliability tests on 10% of the total assessments. With the project now completed, Oregon plans to use the data gathered to develop Individualized Budget Amounts and standardized funding for long-term supports for people with developmental disabilities. Through this project, consumers with developmental disabilities will have a greater degree of choice and consistency of service rates in community living and employment settings.

Jan Morgan, Manager for the Oregon Restructuring Budgets, Assessments and Rates project says, "We have enjoyed a rare, and much-appreciated relationship of cooperation, flexibility, and openness with the team at AAIDD." Working with its partners, AAIDD has facilitated this pilot project by maintaining a sufficient number of interviewers and ensuring reliability of the data collected. Also, AAIDD facilitated the sharing of supplemental questions from other states using SIS, including questions on additional medical, behavioral areas, and protective supervision.

On the Information Technology (IT) end, AAIDD worked with Oregon to elaborate strategies for information access and control, such as setting up levels of security and enabling locking of data for security reasons as well as customizing reports to meet the needs of program managers, data analysts, and IT staff. For the first time, AAIDD developed specifically for Oregon, a stand-alone version of SIS that works on laptops and tablet PCs. While the wireless module enables real-time connection to the SISOnline database, the stand-alone version allows SIS assessment data to be entered without access to the Internet. Encrypted data can be uploaded later into the SISOnline database. With this approach, the state enables access to the SISOnline database in counties and provider agencies where Internet connectivity is an issue. The AAIDD SIS technical team also built for Oregon's use, custom fields on both on the web-based version of SIS as well as the stand-alone module. The stand-alone version of SIS will soon be offered to other interested states as well.

"Overall, providers, consumers, as well as families involved in this project were pleased with the outcomes of the project," says Jula He, AAIDD project manager for Oregon. "While comments on the time taken to complete a SIS interview were not infrequent, we uniformly heard many providers say that SIS makes you think of things you never think of. As one provider pointed out, 'It brings the residential and vocational providers together to talk about the consumer's needs differently.'" Jula adds that people with intellectual disabilities were in general pleased that they were being asked so many questions in the service planning process.

Pilot projects, such as the one with Oregon, are a modest foray into judging the effectiveness of the Supports Intensity Scale tool and AAIDD has worked with states in customizing SIS implementation efforts in specific settings. Since the Supports Intensity Scale tool calls for a new way of thinking of supports and service delivery, states often need advice in planning a roll out of SIS, whether it is customizing the SISOnline system, conducting training on SIS interviews, or determining strategies to integrate SIS with other existing assessment information.

The Oregon pilot project with SIS comes out of a five-year System Transformation Grant received by the Oregon Department of Human Services from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and it is led by the Oregon ReBAR (Restructuring Budgets, Assessments and Rates) project team. A detailed report on the project is expected to be released shortly.

For questions on SIS or the Oregon project, or if you are interested in working with AAIDD on a pilot project using SIS, contact AAIDD at books@aaidd.org.