Creating a safe and healthy environment for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities is paramount for their growth and happiness as well as for ensuring your group home’s success.
So how do we ensure we’re creating a space that’s conducive to learning and promotes community living and participation? Let’s take a look.
What a Safe Environment Looks Like
Every group home should embrace the idea of community living and participation, but what does this mean, exactly?
- i/DDs have the ability to live with whom they want
- They have the ability to live where they want
- They can earn a living wage through employment
- They can participate in community activities that are meaningful
- They can participate in personal interests and hobbies
- They can have strong relationships with friends, family, and significant others
- They are healthy, both physically and emotionally
- They have opportunities to learn and grow
- They have opportunities to make informed decisions and carry out responsibilities, like paying bills
Creating a community
The benefit of a group home for i/DDs is that it provides that smaller, tightly knit community that makes the above ideas of community living and participation easier to achieve.
Outside of a group home, i/DDs may be living with their families and receiving long-term services and support where there are fewer opportunities for inclusive community living and less individualized, round-the-clock support.
Here are a few ways you can ensure your group home is providing the best community for your i/DDs:
- Improve quality. Since there are no federal requirements relating to the quality within community homes and other support models in the US, the level of quality across group homes can vary greatly. Improve your group home by offering individualized support, embrace technology that can help train your staff and improve the activities for your i/DDs, support decision making, and support employment among your i/DDs.
- Improve workforce. The workforce involved in group homes needs to be highly ethical, stable, competent and compensated fairly for the work they do. Offering your staff low wages and not taking time to train them can lead to a high turnover rate which will affect the quality of community services and individualized care. Training and professional development within your staff is crucial.
- Promote public policy. Continue to advocate for public policies that provide states and our local communities to receive the funding needed to improve group homes.
- Self-directed funding. Find new opportunities for funding your group home and the services you provide that will meet the support needs of i/DDs.
Creating a safe and healthy environment at your i/DD group home isn’t something that can be done overnight. Even if you have the best intentions for the support and services you’d like to offer, you’re going to need funding and the right staff to make it happen.