Virtual Coach: HealthMatters Google Classroom to Support Frontline Staff to Protect People with IDD During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic

Jasmina Sisirak and Beth Marks with the HealthMatters Program and Matthew Janicki with the National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices awarded a grant from the UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Science COVID-19 Pilot Grant Program for their project ” Virtual Coach: HealthMatters Google Classroom to Support Frontline Staff to Protect People with IDD During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic.” 


Many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) have health conditions that put them at higher risk, especially those living in congregate care settings, where COVID-19 is rapidly spreading. With this one year, two-pronged project, this project aims to do the following in response to today’s COVID-19 Pandemic, which creates an urgent need to see how access to testing, provision of life-saving equipment, and treatment impact people with IDD. 


We will use results from a survey to learn about how community-based organizations that provide services to people with IDD are preparing and responding to COVID-19 Pandemic. We also recognize that health promotion is important now than ever and want to create a Virtual Coach: HealthMatters Google Classroom to see if this online, any-time, anywhere health promotion training program is effective for frontline staff and people with IDD to follow public health guidelines and stay safe and healthy. The Virtual Coach HealthMatters Classroom will use lessons from our Administration on Community Living approved, evidence-based HealthMattersTM Program and Health Matters Curriculum for people with IDD and their frontline supports to understand, consider, and communicate health behaviors during and after the pandemic. We will maintain the Virtual Coach Classroom (open-sourced) at www.HealthMattersProgram.org.

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