Daymark Living, located in Waxahachie, TX, is dedicated to helping adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Daymark’s origin story starts when John Poston dropped his daughter off at the airport as she went off to college, leaving her twin brother with IDD back at home. When Poston returned from the airport, he saw his son hanging around the house, and thought about how his son could have a similar experience as his sister despite their differences. “I didn't want him stuck in that post-high-school mode of life. On that path, he would slowly fall into a life of social isolation …” Poston said. “I wanted him to have the opportunities his siblings have to create a life and continue growing as a person. And that day I realized that growth was not going to happen sitting at home with me as the key influencer over his life. I had to let go.” But Poston didn’t want to let go unless he knew his son was safe, supervised and supported so he could reach his full potential. That is when Daymark Living was born.
The Daymark Living community is a place where adults with IDD can lead happy and healthy lives. “It’s a community that gives our adult children with IDD endless opportunities to surprise us,” said Poston.
Located roughly 30 minutes south of the Dallas, Daymark’s location in Waxahachie, a town of approximately 40,000 people with all the amenities anyone could ever need, gives residents the benefits of a small-town community, while being an easy drive to all the offerings of the Dallas-Fort Wort area. Daymark’s aim is to provide residents an opportunity to develop and gain independence in the years after high school.
Addressing Life from Every Angle
To accommodate each resident and their varied needs and interests, Daymark built its programs around the six dimensions of wellness: spiritual, intellectual, social, physical, occupational, and emotional. These dimensions of wellness help set the basis for the wide variety of classes and activities the community offers.
“They help to lay the framework and focus for our resident life managers when they are planning classes and activities for residents here, said Chelsea Richards, a resident life manager who has worked at Daymark for more than two years. “Planning within each of these dimensions helps us to ensure that we offer our residents a diverse selection of activities to help them each meet their individual goals.” Some of the classes that are most popular include Daymark’s independent living classes, career classes, and emotional classes like “Relationships and Dating” or “Family, Friends and Futures.”
While each dimension works to improve quality of life in some fashion, residents have their favorites. Kate’s picks are physical and social. Social is a wide-ranging dimension that includes an appreciation for and the maintaining of nature, becoming increasingly aware of one’s importance and impact on society and ways to improve relationships and friendships. Physical deals with exercise and nutrition. “I work out and try to eat healthy and limit snacking and sugars,” she said of the physical dimension.
For Michael, a Daymark resident, the occupational dimension prepares him, and others, for meaningful and rewarding work. “I attend career development classes which help me get prepared for the next step in my career,” he said. For another resident named Ashlynn, the intellectual offerings are both helpful and enjoyable. “I like this area because it helps me work on my hand/eye coordination,” she said. “I try to go to classes that help me with that.”
The intellectual dimension also encourages curiosity, creativity, keeping up with current events and working on problem-solving abilities. Likewise, at Daymark, the spiritual dimension helps residents get their actions in line with their beliefs and stresses the importance of searching for meaning and purpose in life. Lastly the emotional dimension deals with understanding, accepting and communicating one’s feelings, encouraging strong self-esteem and managing stress.
Strengthening Relationships with Others & the Greater Community
At Daymark, residents have ample opportunities to socialize, explore, and engage in both on- and off-campus activities. On campus residents can participate in book club, karaoke, community socials, movie nights, cooking and kitchen safety classes, sports club, yoga, walking club and more.
Featured classes and clubs for the month of December ranged from world Christmas traditions to money basics, morning tea and meditation, community table talks, choir rehearsal and astronomy.
There are even more opportunities around the Waxahachie community when residents are able to leave campus. Trips to religious services, grocery stores, coffee shops, movie theatres, bowling alleys, dance classes, the state fair and even downtown Dallas. Residents are also able to volunteer at a nursing home or an animal shelter. Daymark also partners with businesses in the area to place residents in jobs.
With so many different offerings, it helps to have a personalized schedule because each resident’s day looks a little different depending on their goals. This is just one of the many ways that LifeLoop provides value to the Daymark community.
“Each resident is able to sign up for classes that they would like to take weekly and are then given a copy of their personal schedule for the week,” Richards said. “This helps every resident know exactly where they should be and what is going on here on campus.” With a campus that looks more like a neighborhood, it’s important for residents to know where they’re supposed to be and when they should get there.
“One of the great things about Daymark is that they truly want to give their residents all the best resources to thrive,” said Natallia Jorgensen, Customer Success Specialist at LifeLoop. “You can tell how much they value each resident individually and want to identify their specific strengths and interests. I love seeing all the new, interesting activities they offer their residents each week and how much thought they put into their schedules and curriculum. Overall I am just very thankful that LifeLoop gets to serve a community like theirs.”
An Important Connection Resource
“My favorite thing would be looking at the schedule, seeing pictures, and using LifeLoop to message staff,” Kate, a Daymark resident, said.
Staff members use LifeLoop’s offering in different ways to communicate with each other, with residents, and with their families. The display feature also allows staff to show the day’s schedule and pictures of recent events and outings.
“I use LifeLoop every day and it has been an extremely valuable communication tool for us here at Daymark. Our staff uses LifeLoop as a way to document and communicate important information about residents with each other and across shifts,” Richards said. “LifeLoop also helps us connect with family members through messaging and sharing pictures. Our family members report they love these features about LifeLoop because it helps them to stay involved in our residents' lives and help them to stay informed with what their loved ones are doing here!”
Though LifeLoop originated as a software platform to connect senior living communities, Amy Johnson, LifeLoop CEO, and her team quickly realized the software’s value for IDD communities as well. “LifeLoop was born out of the idea of connection. Families needed more connection, more touchpoints and more access to know what was going on with their loved ones living in these communities. Working with Daymark has been great because they share our passion for transparency by always keeping families in the loop,” said Johnson.
All of the support, communication and programming make Daymark a joyful place to be for residents, their families and staff alike. “There is not a day where you walk into Daymark and you are not greeted by a resident who is glad to see you,” Richards said. “It is by far the best way to start your workday!”