When Independence Care System opened its doors in 2000, the needs of low-income adults with physical disabilities and chronic conditions committed to maintaining their independence were not only unmet in existing long-term care programs; they were invisible. The needs of their home care aides—the lifeline to an independent life for senior adults and people with disabilities or chronic conditions—were invisible as well.
In response, two organizations—both founded before ICS, by ICS President Rick Surpin—took action. One of those organizations is Cooperative Home Care Associates, the South Bronx-based, worker-owned home care agency. The other is PHI, a national policy organization that works to improve the lives of people who need home or residential care by improving the lives of the workers who provide that care.
Follow the journey of Independence Care System from its earliest days to the present (no sound):
Leaders of CHCA and PHI worked together to launch ICS with two purposes: to address the unmet long-term care needs of adults with chronic conditions and physical disabilities so they could live independently, and to advocate for the “Quality Care through Quality Jobs” model for direct-care workers, based on the premise that creating quality jobs for direct-care workers is essential to providing high-quality, cost-effective services. The main elements of the model are family-sustaining wages, affordable health insurance, full-time hours, stable work schedules, ample training and opportunities for advancement, supportive supervision, and management committed to strengthening the essential caregiving relationship between the consumer and her direct-care worker.
CHCA is now the largest worker-owned cooperative in the United States, with approximately 2000 employees.
ICS currently has over 300 employees and supports well over 5,000 senior adults and adults with physical disabilities throughout New York City. We offer specialized services that include a community-based Wheelchair Program; dedicated interdisciplinary teams for members with MS, dementia and spinal cord injuries; and an Advocacy Department, which stands up for the rights of ICS members with the agencies and providers involved in their care.
In recognition of our outstanding services, ICS has received numerous awards and prizes, including:
- The 2011 Komen Grantee of the Year Award, in recognition of the ICS Breast Cancer Screening Project for Women with Physical Disabilities.
- The Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) Leadership Award in 2012 recognizing ICS as a leading “professional organization dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of people with disabilities through increasing access to technology solutions.”
- The 2013 Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize for distinguished accomplishment in urban public health, awarded to ICS and the Women’s Health Access Program.
ICS has grown by leaps and bounds since our creation in 2000, and we look forward to continuing to support senior adults and adults with physical disabilities to live independently in the community for many years to come.