How Individualized Care and a Sense of Home Transforms the Lives of Adults with Developmental Disabilities
by ERICA STIGLMEIER
Residents living at HOPE’s 24-Hour Residential Care Home in Northridge gather each Wednesday to plan their upcoming week. They meet in the living room to discuss with staff where they want to go and how they want to be involved in the community. On some days it’s bowling and mini golf, and on others it’s trips to Santa Monica or the Discovery Museum.
Each resident has their unique interests and desires: Jerilyn and Rachael love singing, Nadine enjoys playing music, while Christine is a fan of watching movies. The onsite staff from Community Providers of Enrichment Services (CPES) strives to fill each of their days with engaging activities.
CPES is a behavioral health agency that provides services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). Their goal at HOPE’s home in Northridge is to not only empower Jerilyn, Christine, Nadine, and Rachel to get involved in the community but also to exercise their independence to the fullest extent of their abilities.
Six years ago this wasn’t possible, as all four of the women previously lived in Fairview Developmental Center, one of the last three state-run institutions to house people with I/DD. Each of them lived in Fairview since childhood or adolescence.
After the Lanterman Act passed in 1969, California took action to gradually eliminate these developmental centers in favor of more personalized care. As outlined in the Lanterman Act, “People with developmental disabilities have the right to services and support to enable them to live an independent life.” Developmental centers have since given way to the regional center system that is state-funded, but privately operated by 21 autonomous nonprofit organizations.
For HOPE’s 24-Hour Residential Care Home in Northridge, the North Los Angeles Regional Center has been instrumental in setting these women up for success. Regional centers use a person-centered approach to help plan, access, and coordinate the services and support that their clients need. They contract with nonprofit and for-profit organizations, to provide those services to individuals with developmental disabilities, and they arrange, fund, and monitor those service providers that assist their clients in maintaining prosperous lives.
For the women that live here, success looks like freedom of choice. They choose their activities and hobbies while being supported by onsite staff. Daily outings and weekly trips to places like aquariums and the Queen Mary all serve to continually engage the residents in their community, while also encouraging personal interests and exploration.
“The home setting has also helped provide a normalized environment for these women,” says Monique Witherspoon, Residential Administrator at CPES. “They have their neighborhood, their home, and their own rooms.”
These vibrant daily routines, coupled with a stable home environment, have produced an increased quality of life for all four residents – most notably Jerilyn. Born in Detroit, Jerilyn had been in the developmental center from a very young age before moving into her HOPE home. When she entered this new housing, she did not speak and rarely participated in community activities. However, after only a year, she became the group’s social butterfly who likes to sing and cook dinner. Jerilyn’s brother is amazed by how much she’s flourished since transitioning to the HOPE home. “She talks more and is so much more sociable,” he says. “The program provided to them by this team has been crucial to her continued development.”
For Jerilyn, Christine, Nadine, and Rachel, choice and independence have encouraged positive change. Increased autonomy has opened a world of community engagement, which may not have otherwise been experienced. This home is a perfect example of how with the right partnerships between organizations like HOPE, CPES, and North Los Angeles Regional Center we can together continue to create life-enhancing housing for people with developmental disabilities.
It is through the generosity of donors that new homes will continue to be created and future residents will have the opportunity to experience freedom, growth, and greater independence. To support our cause, join HOPE’s sustaining gift program, Mission Makers. For as little as $10 per month you can help make the dream of living with dignity and independence come true for HOPE’s next resident.