How I Did It Evaluate and Select a Group Home
Is a Group Home The Answer?
As I write this today, I am much closer to 70 than 60 and my son who has multiple disabilities is now 40. Until four years ago he lived full time with my wife and I. Before remarrying 18 years ago, I did about a ten-year stint as a single parent. In addition to a considerable intellectual disability, my son is blind, essentially non-verbal, and is diagnosed with a “non specific episodic mood disorder”. In addition to this, he also has epilepsy. He requires full time supervision and assistance with all activities of daily living. So, what is the point of our story? We made a major living adjustment four years ago. On the advice of medical and legal professionals I decided to venture into the “Group Home” world. We spent less than a year in one home and have just celebrated three years in our second home. In retrospect, and with a more experienced eye, I wish I knew then what I know now…more on that later.
The lawyer that wrote our “Special Needs Trust”, as well as a handful of medical professionals counseling me about my own health and well being, were very persuasive when I decided to “test” the group home concept. I “guesstimate” over the years that we have had 50 or so individuals acting as part time caregivers for my son. I can honestly say that the best non family hands on caregiver he has ever had is the woman who owns and manages the group home here sides in today and for the past 3 years.
However, my guilt and worry is still ever present.
Shouldn’t my son still be living full time with me? After all, I had gotten pretty used to the 24/7 care routine and was able to afford some daily assistance from part time caregivers. Maybe I over reacted when my attorney said, “If something happened to me, wouldn’t my son be better if an “emergency placement” was not necessary and that in a group home my son’s routine would be uninterrupted?”. Maybe I over reacted when my primary care physician said, “You might be headed to ‘burn out’ city”.
Well, it is what it is, as they say. I see my son frequently and I have convinced myself that his life has more variety to it than it used to have since he now has more relationships than just his Dad and Step Mom. I was hospitalized last year with a short-term illness and I heard my attorney’s words in my mind reminding me that I needed a back up plan to insure my son’s well being should I become ill, or God forbid, worse.
Nothing is perfect, and honestly I continue to rack my brain thinking of any other approach that I might have taken as my boy and I continue to age. But, in the meantime, I got off of the 24/7tread mill and I am pretty sure I could jump back on if I had to. But, the question is whether that will ever be the right thing to do.
I manage my son’s environment very closely and that approach helps with the guilt!
QUESTIONS TO ASK?
When selecting a Group Home for your child, detailed below are things to think about that I have learned over the years and that might help someone else in similar circumstances.
Cost: If self paying, can you sustain the cost whether you are alive or not? If, for example, there is a State Waiver, are fees paid to Group Home based on degree of disability? Does state Waiver provide a list of available Group Homes in your area?
- How long has owner been in business? How long do they intend to be in business. Do they have a succession plan should they get ill or leave the business?
- Is distance from your home an issue?
- Does owner reside in Group Home? Although it is not necessary, if they do, the residence might tend to be cleaner and staff may be better supervised
- Do you want owner to be responsible for arranging and transporting to routine medical care, or, do you want to be the responsible party? Who manages ordering prescriptions and refills?
- Do you want other services outside of Group Home, for example, day program or employment?
- You should speak with staff to get a feel for their background and reason for working in the home with taking your loved one out of the group home anytime for visits?
- You should request any recent Group Home evaluations that have been completed by the state.
- How many residents are in the home? You might like a larger or smaller environment
- Does your loved one prefer a private room or want a room-mate?
- Does owner welcome parental involvement and direction?
- Do you want a coed or single sex environment?
- Will owner provide references?
- Can you speak with some of the residents, if appropriate and legally allowed?
- Is there a visitor policy? Can loved ones come and go as they please, are there problems
- Does the home smell and look clean?
- What types of meals are served?
- Does your loved one require special foods?
- Can the owner provide this?
- Group Homes: Can My Experience Help You?
- When Is the Right Time to Transition from Your Home to a Group Home?
- Preparing for the First Apartment: Beyond Home Furnishings and Domestic Supplies
- Beresford West: Improved Living Accommodation Work!
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This post originally appeared on our January/Febuary 2018 Magazine