The GRACE Project

grace2On a daily basis, organizations that support adults with developmental disabilities are facing the “graying” of participants in their programs and in their residences. In response, The GRACE Manual for Aging Adults with Developmental Disabilities was developed as a service provider response to later life transitions. The Manual includes: Training, Day Services, Residential Services and a Resource Guide. The Training Manual provides the user with curriculum that includes the topics of: Aging in Place, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Programming and Health Promotion (The Physical, Social, Emotional and Spiritual Aging Processes), End of Life and Caring for the Caregiver. The Day Services section of the Manual provides the user with the conceptual and practical knowledge to develop and implement a day program. The Residential Services section of the Manual defines the concept of aging in place as individuals being afforded the opportunity to remain in their homes for as long as possible while maintaining meaningful activities and relationships. The Resource Guide includes citing of all the books, articles, manuals and research consulted during the development of the manual.

The GRACE (Generating Resources for Aging Through Collaborative Energies) Project: addresses the focal areas of Staff Training and Retention and Life Stage Transitions.


Staff Training and Retention

The Staff Training and Retention program encompasses trainings based upon the curriculum provided to: staff who work within Intersect for Ability Network organizations and those who facilitate trainings, and staff from any interested human service organization. Deliverables that directly support the training of staff may include:

  • The development of an On-the-Job (OJT) Checklist to be implemented in both day and residential settings to assess and ensure staff competency to implement newly learned material
  • The development of a video to augment the curriculum utilizing scenarios and settings from Network organizations
  • Submission of the GRACE Manual Curriculum and OJT Checklist to the IL Department of Human Services for review/approval as an approved curriculum for which DD organizations will be reimbursed on a per participant basis upon their successful initial and/or five year retraining


grace1Life Stage Transition

In addition to the Staff Training and Retention program, The GRACE Project encompasses a Life Stage Transition program. The Transitions program will be implemented, in accordance with The Manual, in each the Day and Residential Services programs at each Intersect for Ability agency participating as a full partners.

The GRACE (Generating Resources for Aging Through Collaborative Energies) Project: Implementation Within and Beyond the Intersect for Ability Network is the implementation and evaluation of the GRACE Manual for Aging Adults with Developmental Disabilities.

To ensure sustainability, it is a goal to submit the GRACE Manual Curriculum and the On-the-Job Checklist to the IL Department of Human Services for review prior to the end of the grant period. This training is based upon the State’s curriculum. Approval of the curriculum would result in organizations being reimbursed for the training as well as in organizations being able to train newly hired staff specifically to work with aging adults with DD, an option not currently available. When approved, the GRACE training curriculum would be the only agency based content specific direct support training in the State of Illinois.

April 2021 – December 2022

The GRACE Project 2021-22, funded by the Coleman Foundation, revamps the original GRACE Curriculum and Program Manual published in 2010 (GRACE stands for Generating Resources for Aging Through Collaborative Energies.)  The modernization of GRACE will include converting the paper-based curriculum into a 40-hour training series comprised of online presentations and on-the-job learning activities. The online format will be easier to update and make the information accessible to a broader audience.  

The new GRACE’s target audience is front-line workers and managers who support the aging individuals with I/DD served by our partner agencies. Revision of the original training material includes updates to the Curriculum and new sections on current trends and best practices in services for the aging population with I/DD. We have also included cultural considerations, resource equity, and assistive technology components in this new version.

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