Independent Living Association (ILA) operates 35 full-time group homes and 2 day programs throughout New York City supporting hundreds of intellectually and developmentally disabled, or IDD, men and women. Each of the Individuals is a unique and special person who requires closely supervised medical care.
Raymond Anderson is presently the Nursing Coordinator for all of ILA’s group homes and programs. He supervises approximately 24 Registered or Licensed Nurses who are directly responsible for the medical care of the residents. His primary responsibility is to oversee and ensure that each Individual receives daily medical care including, but not limited to, the taking of their medications, making medical and dental visits, and maintaining proper nutrition within a safe and healthy environment. Working with the Human Resources Department, Ray has gathered a staff of dedicated professionals who have special abilities and a certain innate feeling to work within this community of Individuals.
Ray has been working at ILA for 5 years since coming out of retirement after many years in public health working for United Cerebral Palsy, the VA and Northwell Health. He realized early on that caring for ILA Individuals involves a team working together–the Direct Support Professionals (DSP), nurses, house managers and area coordinators. Caring for the Individuals, many of whom have comorbidities, presents unique challenges and only by working as a team and following closely regulated procedures are they assured of excellent medical care. Each resident must undergo an annual physical and attend necessary follow-up consultations along with having dental and hearing checkups. Quite a daunting task to keep all of his staff on target to fulfil the needs of the individuals.
Although each nurse comes to ILA with some experience, Ray is responsible for any specialized training for the nurses who, in turn, have training protocols for the DSPs. The house staff goes through rigorous training in dispensing medication, emergency procedures, and the turning and positioning of non-ambulatory residents. There are monthly team meetings, more often if necessary, which focus on each resident’s medical needs.
Ray finds staffing to be one of the biggest challenges. While working at ILA has given nurses the flexibility to maintain a work/life balance, there is still a great demand for nurses within this field. Ray explains that competition between employers can be fierce. Although ILA’s nurses receive competitive salaries and benefits, Ray recognizes there is a need to do better and is committed to improving all of the conditions of employment. Ray states that this type of work is not suited for everyone, but for those who are committed, it is an incredibly fulfilling career.
When asked why he chose to work with the IDD population, Ray believes that he and his team are doing God’s work, stating, “Someone has to care for these people, and seeing that they are well cared for gives me the most satisfaction.” He loves it when he sees many of the families interact with their loved ones and would like to see more of this kind of engagement.
Ray Anderson understands the significant impact that he and his Nursing staff make in the daily lives of the ILA residents and they continue, in spite of the recent pandemic-related challenges, to make sure that all are safe and healthy.