Shared Living: Friendship, Family, and Quality of Life
At Better Community Living, Inc. (BCL), great emphasis is placed on offering integration, independence, and relationship building to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. All of these are central to helping these individuals lead fulfilling lives. While BCL is known for providing homes to its consumers, the agency also offers another valuable option – Shared Living.
Shared Living engages families and individuals to fully open their homes to BCL consumers. These providers then support an individual’s daily living skills, and help them to fulfill their personal goals.
Individuals are welcomed into the home as a member of the family. They are fully integrated into daily routines and the family’s social life. They attend events together, help run errands, participate in meal planning, shopping, and prep as much as they are able to do so. Providers also help the individuals to engage better in community and social activities, develop self-sufficiency, and build strong relationships, as well as assist with transportation and medical appointments.
Further, the individual who lives with a provider has great autonomy and independence. They’ll have their own bedroom with a bed and bureau, a dresser for their clothes, and a lock on their door. They have a right to invite family/friends over to visit. With the assistance of their provider, they attend events and participate in outings of their choice – and even plan out vacations! Overall, shared living aims to help BCL consumers achieve greater quality of life.
BCL’s Placement Services Director visits a potential provider’s homes to learn more about them, know their personality, inspect the home, and determine if their house qualifies. The best possible provider is someone who has the physical space, as well as the time and availability to provide quality companionship and support.
If selected, Shared Living Providers then receive training and a memorandum of understanding. By the time their individual moves in they’ll be fully trained in first aid, CPR, home safety, how to deal with intellectually disabled persons, and how to be an effective provider to reach certain goals. Providers will also understand medication, money plans and money management, and how to approach ISP’s.
An ISP, or Individual Support Plan, outlines each individual’s unique goals. One of BCL’s existing Shared Living Providers says, “My guy’s goal is to interact with friends and interact in the community. Another thing is that he likes photography, so one of the goals is to build a collage and set up a place for his pictures.”
This is exactly what Shared Living is all about. It’s about supporting a person’s interests, and helping them to further their goals. It’s also about skills development and enhancing one’s social abilities and comfort. Many, over time, come out of their shell. They become more trusting. They become more open to trying new things, meeting new people, and at the same time, they learn more about who they are and what they enjoy.
Shared Living Providers are Independent Contractors through BCL and receive a monthly stipend, which is tax free as allowable by law. As an added support, Providers also weekly support if they cannot help with an individual’s transportation, and they also receive two weeks of respite per year. Learn more at www.bettercommunity.com.
To learn more about the Shared Living Program, contact Tenina Ramos at 508-999-4300 Ext. 220 or firstname.lastname@example.org.