Dear Families and Friends,
We want to share our thoughts about CSI's evolving approach to peoples' residential supports.
For nearly 20 years now, the preferred community residential model for persons with intellectual disabilities has been a four-person group home (during this period, CSI has generally declined to create larger homes.) While four-person homes have represented the state-of-the-best practice, they no longer do.
Instead, forward looking provider organizations are steadily closing group homes in favor of creating individual supports. Why? Because people living in group homes rarely have had the opportunity to choose with whom they live; they oftentimes express verbally and behaviorally they would prefer an alternative; they must share attention from staff which distracts from their achieving life goals; and the true community integration thought possible with smaller homes, has too often not been realized.
What do we mean by individual supports? Not that everyone lives alone, though some people are choosing their own apartment with varying degrees of staff supports throughout the day and night. Others choose to live with a friend, again with staff supports; with a non-disabled, paid apartment mate; or with family (“shared living”) providers. In brief, several models are possible, all with the individually determined optimum degree of staff supports, ranging from a few, to several, to 24 hours daily. The hours of support will be determined by a person’s needs and desires; safety will not be compromised.
Here is a brief description of one recent CSI effort. Four women with challenging behaviors and the need for relatively intensive supports each now have their own apartment in a single apartment complex. One woman lives alone in her one-bedroom apartment with no overnight staff. A second woman lives in a two-bedroom apartment with a non-disabled apartment mate. A third woman has no overnight staff, but assistive technology provides additional safeguards. Further, she lives adjacent to a fourth woman who has awake overnight staffing in the event either woman needs assistance. Finally, each women has nearly one to one staffing during day hours to ensure her pursuit of independent activities.
As we move forward to implement our new initiative in the coming months, we would appreciate the opportunity to discuss our thoughts on this topic with prospective families seeking our supports and with families with whom we currently work.
Harold L. Thomas, Chairman, Board of Directors
Carol A. Whitcomb, President/CEO