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.
Why is a supportive home the right solution for families with young adults with intellectual or developmental disabilities?
Families need to study up and determine what services your loved one needs. Delve into what the provider offers for services. For example, if you need a place where medications are administered, that is something Mainstay does not do, but we do offer medication reminders. Make sure to ask questions of service providers so you know exactly what they do. Supportive housing is an excellent choice for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, but not all of these homes are created equal, so do your homework. Service is the key to all of this. It’s not just the houses.
When should parents start thinking about finding a supportive home for their loved one?
I recently saw a study which recommended the search begin five to 10 years in advance. We encourage people to determine if they will be pursuing private pay options, such as Mainstay, or if they will be getting assistance. We work with families to educate them on options available such as disability and social security. There’s also a help center in Boston we encourage families to utilize.
When should parents start talking to their child about moving into a supportive home?
The earlier these conversations begin, the easier the transition is likely to be. If there’s an older sibling going off to college, that’s a good opportunity to broach the subject saying something like, “Your brother is going off to college, and soon your time will come.” Routines are so important to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, so talking well in advance allows them time to anticipate transitioning. Moving away from mom and dad to being as independent as they can be is an important goal, and communicating is key to this transition.
What are some of the most important things for families to look at: Price, location, services?
Yes, to all of them! If I had to put them in order of importance, services come first. What is your vision for your loved one? And even more important, what does your loved one need? Next is price. How are you going to pay for it? Are you going to need help from the state or are you going to pay privately? Then location. Do you want your loved one close to where you live, or is it more important they are closer to where they might work or volunteer? They are all important considerations – but prioritize services first.
What are some red flags parents should look out for when researching supportive homes?
Parents need to understand staffing patterns. At Mainstay, we are very clear that your loved one should have something to do during the day. That’s very typical for many group homes unless there’s a very high level of service being provided. Understand the staffing patterns and look at the condition of the home itself. At Mainstay, we are blessed to have an amazing landlord. Families touring our homes immediately notice the curb appeal. We have professional landscaping and a cleaning service [for] all the common areas. You don’t find that at other group homes. You also want to look at the other people who live in the home. Are they dressed? Are they groomed? That sets the standard of where your loved one is going to live.