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Creston provider celebrates 20 years

Creston News Advertiser - 9/6/2022

Sep. 6—Traditional retail stores probably have had the same customers for many years.

But what FOCUS in Creston does for its people long term can't be compared. Since September 2002, FOCUS has provided care for those with an intellectual disability, a brain injury or chronic mental illness.

"Some of us have been here since the beginning," said Derek Laney, a director of the organization. "And we are still working with our first consumer."

The staff at FOCUS work with people who have those conditions and are eligible for care through Medicaid to use community support services, like FOCUS.

"Some people are high need. They need education, assistance and guidance to get community services," Laney said. FOCUS helps those people with routine tasks of grocery shopping, bank transactions and "...even going to the movies. We help them with daily tasks."

A majority of their clients have intellectual disabilities. As of this month, FOCUS has 120 clients, which FOCUS calls consumers, in Southwest Iowa. FOCUS has an office in Council Bluffs which also works with consumers in the area, but mainly emphasize the greater Council Bluffs area. FOCUS has 100 employees in Council Bluffs and there are 50 between offices in Creston and Shenandoah.

Laney is confident with the staff.

"Of our 100 plus employees, we have a total of 646 years of experience," he said.

FOCUS staff are working with those who were assigned to the state-ran facility in Glenwood which is scheduled to be closed by June 2024.

Laney said the goal is to get the consumer to a point in life where they are independent and self sufficient.

"Most will need fewer services as time goes by," he said. "We want them to develop skills, confidence and have contacts and less services by the day."

Laney said those goals are considered relative as some will need some amount of support. Those with brain injuries probably will have long-term services as there are no cures.

Regional Director Summer Murdock said day camps, which go back to 2013, have shown their success. Over time, she said one person progressively improved being comfortable leaving his home and attending.

"Now he comes five days a week," Murdock said. "That is huge starting out with not leaving his house."

Cosumers and FOCUS also have had helped with tasks in the community, like watering some of the flower pots in Uptown Creston.

FOCUS does see trends within their consumers. As the consumers age, the need for services typically increases.

"We want them to take their skills home," Laney said.


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