ConnectABILITY

The Future Looks Bright: New Approaches to Making a Home for Someone with an Intellectual Disability

New Approaches to Making a Home for Someone with an Intellectual Disability (51:22)

Parents of children with an intellectual disability advocated against large, segregated institutions and for community-based group homes and day programs in their communities in the 1960’s. Their efforts were rewarded and evolved into well-established services offered within Developmental Services in Ontario.

However in the decades since, the focus for care and support of persons with an intellectual disability has steadily fallen back to reliance on family. We are again witness to a grassroots movement led again by parents of their adult children with an intellectual disability.

This new movement calls for service providers, government and communities to partner with parents to address long residential wait lists (currently 2700 in Toronto alone) and create innovative, affordable and accessible residential housing and community participation supports.

Along with the wait, the search for affordable housing can be years, even decades in some cases. This represents the single biggest, yet resolvable crisis facing people with an intellectual disability.

Currently families can choose to wait for traditionally funded supports like group homes or take on the cost of independent living for their child alone – an option that is out of reach for most.

Families are often left to care for their adult child at home and for too many this is a 24/7 job. The sense of isolation and negative impact on the parent’s overall quality of life can’t be overstated.

As most would agree, there is nothing that provides greater self esteem or is more exciting for a young adult than moving into a place of his or her own and it’s something most parents look forward to.

Also, for any adult, bonding with others outside a traditional family unit is fundamental to creating a sense of belonging in the community at large.

For this documentary four community agencies came together to share their experiences, successes and challenges related to working in partnerships to explore, create and/or access innovative, affordable, supported housing options within their respective communities.

Community Living Peterborough, Community Living Prince Edward, Community Living Toronto and Elmira District Community Living may differ in their journeys within varied rural and urban settings; however, there was real value in comparing their approaches and challenges.

To continue building on their experiential successes, the four agencies began to explore forums to enable other interested organizations the opportunity to learn about and examine the various partnership models that they feel would be feasible and successful within their own unique communities.

The documentary was commissioned as an alternative method to share innovative housing initiatives, successes, challenges and lessons learned and act as a fund raising tool to further support existing and future housing initiatives.

The production details that early preparation and planning is essential for families and children with an intellectual disability to ready themselves for independent living in the new housing models profiled.

With the help of groundbreaking programs like Trying it on for Size, the Steps to Independence guidebook, the Person Directed Planning process, and the Homes programs, children and parents are encouraged to visualize future goals early on and determine the steps required to achieve them.

A number of unique and innovative housing models are documented in the program.

The viewer will learn of building new “Smart Homes” where parents can prompt their adult child to take their medication and parents “see” what’s happening in a home in real time.

The viewer will learn of non traditional approaches to live in supports for residents including DSW students being provided scholarships in return for being a “good friend and neighbour” to residents.

Additionally families and most importantly the residents themselves have an opportunity to share their success with the viewer.