Independent Living (Part 3)

Advocate, Community Participation, Disability, Family Challenges, Inclusion, Independent Living, Parents, People with Disabilities No Comments »

The American Disabilities Act proclaims that all persons with disabilities are entitled to independent living. Just as families have different needs and resources, independent living can be provided in different ways. In previous blogs we have examined state institutions, a private residential institution, and the abundant living situation of a young woman making her home with her mother. Another alternative is the group home, designed to serve children or adults with disabilities. Such homes usually have six or fewer occupants and are staffed 24 hours a day by trained caregivers.

Although most group homes provide long-term care, some residents eventually acquire the necessary skills to move to more independent living situations. The development of group homes occurred in response to the deinstitutionalization movement of the 1960s and 1970s. They were designed to provide care in the least restrictive environment and to integrate individuals with disabilities into the community.

Since the passage of the Community Mental Health Centers Act in 1963, grants have been available to group homes. Although state and federal funds continue to support the majority of group homes,  some homes operate on donations from private citizens or civic and religious organizations. Unfortunately, the number of available group homes has not always matched need.

One of the goals of group home living is to increase the independence of residents. Daily living skills include meal preparation, laundry, housecleaning, home maintenance, money management, and appropriate social interactions. Self-care skills include bathing or showering, dressing, toileting, eating, and taking prescribed medications. Staff also assure that residents receive necessary services from community service providers, including medical care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, vocational training, education, and mental health services.

As with any type of organization, some group homes are better run than others. Factors that contribute to group home success are a small staff-to-resident ratio, well-trained staff, and a home-like atmosphere. Before considering group home placement, extensive planning should be conducted. The individual’s strengths should be incorporated into the plan whenever possible. For example, if a supportive family is an identified strength, the preferred group home should be close in proximity to facilitate family visits.

Sometimes, when a group home or other desirable facility is not available, devoted and energetic parents and volunteers elect to build a suitable home for people with disabilities in their families or community. Our next blog will introduce a parent whose efforts are endless in developing an independent living situation for her son and others.

It’s About Time

Inspiration 3 Comments »


Nature tells us so much about timing. A few weeks ago I noticed that the Lenten rose was blooming. It always blooms during Lent and it is the first flower (always white) of spring. Now the purple crocuses are blooming, to be followed by the yellow daffodils. This happens every year, and I’m usually magically surprised at the regularity of the whole process. Granted, occasionally a late frost interferes with the development of the blossoms, but the timing is constant.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us that “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” Our study of the book of Esther reminds us that there is also a time to wait.

We are not good at waiting; our culture trains us for impatience. We change lines at the bank to avoid waiting, we rush from church to beat the crowd at the restaurant, our computers take too long to boot up. But we were also taught as children that “Haste makes waste” and my son the landscaper warns his customers. “If you hurry, you mess up.”

I had a lesson in waiting a few years ago when I was planning a move and had my house for sale. I did all the things you’re supposed to do: find a good realtor, eliminate personal objects and clutter, keep the yard in good shape. Since I was building a house in another city, I felt the urgency of selling quickly. The new house was rapidly emerging, the old house was waiting. So was I, alarmed at the thought of making two house payments. Finally, almost a year later, I dismissed the realtor and put my own ad in the paper. A week later a neighbor phoned to say that her sister was visiting and would like to see my house. She fell in love with it (as I had assumed anyone would) and a few days later made an offer to purchase it. I received a call that the new house would soon be ready for occupancy. I packed up and arranged for a moving van.

The day we closed on the old house, the new house was ready and I moved in. Had it sold any sooner I would have had to rent a house in the new home place and make a second move.

Psalm 27 admonishes us “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Our time is not always God’s time – a difficult concept for us to accept in our fast moving world. Distinguishing between “When it’s time” and “When it’s time to wait” requires patience and acceptance.

Can you identify?

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