Paul Lemieux is family liaison 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.
What are some helpful things parents and caregivers should do when helping their adult child transition to one of Mainstay’s supportive houses?
You need to start planning for this move years, not months, in advance. That to me is the key. I also advise people to really assess what it is their loved one wants and needs. Parents have to shift their thinking and take themselves out of the driver’s seat. What is it that will give your child an enriched life they can call their own?
How far in advance should conversations surrounding a move such as this take place? Is it ever too soon for these conversations to take place?
Many people suggest you start talking to your children at the age of 14, so they have plenty of time to prepare for a move such as this. Many young adults with disabilities long for independence, so emphasizing what a positive change this will be is important to help solidify that mindset. In addition to how you talk with your child, parents and caregivers need to discuss how they will pay for a move such as this. Will they go the private pay route, such as a Mainstay home, or will they go through a state system? The equation of how you will pay is important. I’d say three years in advance is a good middle ground to have these conversations.
How helpful is it to schedule a tour prior to the move?
A tour is everything, and is perhaps the most valuable thing you can do. As a parent you’ll get peace and comfort, and your loved one will get to see who is in the home now. You will see the community in terms of what activities are going on and what the group dynamics are like. We encourage people to come and have dinner with the group. We also offer Zoom tours, but nothing compares to taking the time to walk through one of our homes. That is vital.
What should happen after the move to a Mainstay home in terms of phone calls, texts, and visits?
It is important to be encouraging about the positives that are going on in the home. It’s easy to point out what’s wrong. Nothing is perfect in life. This is a big step, so be encouraging and be positive. A lot of people who come to live with us are close with their siblings and that shouldn’t change. Our houses are homes. Families are welcome. We say you should call, text and visit as often as your loved one needs you to.