Join our email list for breaking news and inspiring stories. Subscribe.
When Robin received news that her brother’s facility was closing, she panicked. He had lived at the secure site for developmentally disabled adults for thirty-five years.
“I was so worried. I just wanted him settled and to live his life, and have a pleasant life. Life hasn’t been that kind to him,” Robin said.
Scott’s mental disability means he needs constant supervision, but Robin can’t afford to be with him at every moment, so she relied on the institution to oversee his care.
While concerned she would have trouble finding a new facility to welcome him, she was also skeptical of the care he had been receiving. His institution had been large and crowded. She felt it was unsafe, and, worse yet, unpredictable. She never knew what state she would find him in when she would visit. She wasn’t allowed to see his room. Scott was also a wanderer and tended to get lost, even though the site was closed off from the community. Robin worried that in their desperation to find a new place, Scott would end up somewhere that wasn’t adequately caring or safe.
In her hour of greatest need, Sheltering Arms provided relief as Scott was welcomed into a brand new 24-hour community-based home for developmentally disabled adults, one of five such homes in the Sheltering Arms network. “Sheltering Arms addressed my questions, they addressed my fears, and they told me what they would do to alleviate any nervousness I felt. For example, when I said that Scott has a history of running away and I’m nervous about it, Sheltering Arms responded by installing an alarm on the door.”
Despite only having lived at the new home for a couple of months, Robin says she has already noticed significant changes in Scott’s attitude, health, and even appearance. “He just looks happier,” she said.
Not only is Scott receiving the extra attention that a smaller facility can provide, but he also has his own room for the first time in his life. Having his own space to fill with furniture and possessions – and even painted in a color of his choosing – has flooded Scott with emotion.
“One thing he tells me is he loves his room. I had never heard him use the word ‘love’ before.”
In contrast to large secure facilities, the home is based in the community and looks like any other house in the neighborhood. Scott and his housemates share family meals together and take trips into the community to build skills and lead an independent, inclusive life. Scott attends the Sheltering Arms Day Habilitation program each day so he can try crafts, games, and lessons. Scott has also been given occasional paid custodial work, further building pathways to self-sufficiency.
Robin is still apprehensive about Scott’s future. “Thirty-five years is a long time, so this is a big transition for him,” she said. Yet Robin feels that he is happier and realizes she is as well. Scott has found a true home. She’s hopeful that he will stay where he is for a long time to come – not out of a desperate need for care, but because Scott loves his new home.