Ask Our Experts- Mainstay’s Doreen Cummings Talks about Moving Day for Residents

Doreen Cummings is the Director of Services for Mainstay Supportive Housing. This series explores different topics related to finding the right supportive housing for your loved one with intellectual or developmental disabilities. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

 

What is it like on move-in day?

It’s a really exciting day. We have often siblings, parents and residents who already live there, welcoming the new resident to the community. It’s only moving one room, so there’s not too much heavy lifting, so to speak. Usually folks will hire a move-in expert or movers to come and lend a hand. But the move-in part is pretty quick, and it’s more adjusting to them living there and taking those, sort of, next steps to really feel your way around the community and feel how you’re fitting in.

 

One of the things that seems very appealing about having your adult child with disabilities living at a Mainstay supportive home is that they get to pick their own room. How are bedrooms divided up?

It really is what’s available. When we first opened the model and had nobody in the home, it was easy to pick and choose. There was plenty to choose from. Now, we have so few openings throughout each of the houses, it really becomes whatever is available. But if we have two rooms available, three rooms available, certainly we allow the resident to choose where they feel the most comfortable, and the family giving their input on what can fit into the room and size and the light coming in, so everybody sort of chimes in and then they make a decision and we hold that room for when they move in. 

 

I’ve seen a lot of the rooms and they’re all nice. Could you talk a little bit about how residents make the room their own?

Yes. We’ve got a lot of collectors in our communities. We’ve got Beanie Baby collection, My Little Pony collections, like real collector’s items, and old CD collections or DVDs, you know, original albums. So, folks are bringing their collections, they’re bringing their bed. There’s enough room for a dresser, a mini fridge, a desk. Sometimes the rooms are enormous, and there’s even room for a couch. It can be like a little sort of a studio pad, if you will.

 

It’s important to note that the rooms do not come furnished, that families need to bring furniture. And aside from the furniture, what other things are important to bring from the family home into their new home at Mainstay?

You’re going to want to bring your sheets and your towels, obviously your toiletries. All of the furniture in the common areas, the kitchen, that’s all stocked. But if someone has a favorite Cappuccino maker that they want to bring, they certainly can add that to the kitchen. Or their gaming system that they want to have either in their room or the common area, they could bring that to the house. And their clothes. I would say this model feels very hybrid. Most of our community members, although not all, are local so their families live within an hour of the houses that we oversee. You do see a lot of folks going back and forth to their family home and then back to their home with Mainstay, which is really nice, that sort of hybrid, back and forth—connected to family, but have their own community to go back to. So sometimes you sort of see people have a room set up at their family home, as well as the setup at the Mainstay home.  

 

I’m sure family visits are certainly a part of the process here. When your child moves in, how often should a parent consider coming to visit?

We see a lot of visits happening virtually and in person. The virtual game has sort of changed everything, where someone’s Mom can call at 8 o’clock every night and give a med reminder, or talk to the staff on the hour shift that the staff is with the resident, which is nice and interesting. But we really welcome the family members to come whenever they want, to be a part of the community that we have, to bring an activity as a family collaborative, which is what we call this model. We really want to see the families involved as much as possible, run a cookout, help in the garden. That really is something that we’re proud of, is that we have very involved family members. So, we welcome them. They get the code to the house as responsible parties and, as long as the resident is okay with the visits – and the frequency of the visits – we’re OK with it too.

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