The housing option provides a family environment for adults with disabilities

The housing option provides a family environment for adults with disabilities

In a follow-up to our August report on group home closures for adults with developmental disabilities, Randy B.

One day in late September, she sat at the kitchen table in Angie Phillips’ home outside of Scottsville while flipping through a photo album.

Angie Phillips: And then, in the spring, we had Louis’ birthday party. …we had a petting zoo…horses, donkeys, chickens and rabbits. Lewis really loves farm animals.

Lewis is a 63-year-old woman who lives with the Phillips family.

Phillips: She loves to travel and go places with us. Like I said, we went to the rodeo. …that woman knows the words in every song – especially country songs. She sings, loves to ride in the car, the radio is on, and knows who sings it, the name and the words.

Phillips is a sponsored residential provider – which means she has gone through the licensing process and opened her home to someone with a developmental disability. She learned about this type of housing service from her mother, who had been a breadwinner for 11 years. This is the person Lewis lived with before he came to the Phillips house in April of this year.

Angie Phillips at her home in Scottsville.

Phillips: When Lois was living with my mother, I was actually her back-up worker, which means when my mom and dad weren’t available, I was her caregiver at the time. And to do that, you just have to take a few classes, and get some practice.

It includes lessons in human rights, CPR, first aid, and medication management. All of this is under the supervision of the organization Wall Residence, which provides housing and support for people with developmental disabilities and long-term mental health diagnoses throughout the state. Phillips decided to become a breadwinner on her own after her father became ill and her mother was no longer able to care for two of her residents. She said the approval process includes a number of home inspections.

Phillips: There are a lot of simple things, like making sure you have smoke detectors working, making sure your water temperature is safe for your individual, making sure your well or city water has been tested, things like that. Just to make sure that your home is in good shape, and that it is safe for the individual to come with you to live with you.

She took me on a tour of her home, through a living room with fall-themed decor and pacman arcade games, and even Louis’ room.

Phillips: So she has her own space and her own room, so she has her own bathroom, all that good stuff. [door opening] And then – let me turn on the light – she has a room decorated with furniture she bought herself, and the things she loves. She loves horses. She has a lot of horse decorations! You love John Wayne.

The Phillips home is one of nearly 400 homes operating under Wall Residences.

ALEX JACKSON: And we support about 620 people across Virginia.

Alex Jackson is the director of admissions for the organization.

Alex-Jackson.jpg.  Alex Jackson

Alex Jackson is the Director of Admissions at Wall Residences.

Jackson: The thing about our agency, and that’s something we’re really proud of, and what I and our admissions staff take on, is work on matching the individual to the families. … This is what ensures that the services actually work. I started with the agency in 2008, there are people I hired in 2008 and 09 still in the same house.

He said that about 85% of the housing they provide is done through the sponsored housing system. Sponsors, such as Phillips, provide daily and weekly reports to Wall about the performance of the person living with them. Wall also oversees some small group homes, and provides support services for people with disabilities who live alone or with their families.

Jackson: So what we’re struggling with right now… is that we’re having trouble finding eligible families. …it is difficult in certain parts of Virginia to find interested families. So, Charlottesville, for example.

you may remember A story we did in August About a woman who had to be moved from Charlottesville to Lynchburg due to a lack of housing options. Wall Residences is supervising her new home.

Jackson: We are looking for people Which houses are accessible, or accessible with some relatively minor modification, like maybe a ramp up to the front porch.

I asked Phillips what qualities she thinks make a good caregiver.

Phillips: You have to be careful. You have to make sure that you have the time in your life for this person, to make sure that their needs and desires are met.

Phillips is a mother of two and has been a teacher for 22 years – both experiences she now counts on as a provider. She noted that some individuals stay at the service provider’s home during the day, while others, like Lewis, go on a daily program, where she can play sports, karaoke, and serve meals on wheels throughout the community.

Phillips: This isn’t just a “job.” This is not a nine to five job. It’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just as if it was someone in your family. It’s like teaching – you don’t do it for the money. You do it because of the changes you see in people, help enrich their lives, and help them become the people they want to be.

For Lois, that means dressing up as TV chef “The Pioneer Woman” to go to a Halloween party with Phillips later this month.

#housing #option #family #environment #adults #disabilities

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