Behind the Scenes at SCARC’s Group Homes

November 13, 2019

While most people are aware that group homes for adults with developmental disabilities exist, not everyone has a clear understanding of what daily life looks like for those who live in these residences. It’s essential that families who are considering a group home environment for their loved ones understand what the individuals we serve experience in these homes. As well, SCARC’s donors and supporters would undoubtedly benefit from getting a better glimpse of all that is involved in providing shelter, care, and love to those who reside in group homes.

For a sneak peek at what life is like at a SCARC group home, we had a Q&A session with Leah Wilson, LSW, our director of community services. She oversees several of our group homes throughout the county.

Q: How and when does the day begin?

A: In SCARC’s group homes for adults with developmental disabilities, the day generally begins whenever the residents decide it does! We don’t wake them all at a specific time, so some individuals wake up as early as 4:30 am, while others sleep until later in the A.M., getting up with just enough time before leaving for their day programs. Some individuals have time confusion, so they don’t always follow a typical sleep schedule, and we do our best to accommodate these variations. So, though we may gently encourage a very early riser to go back to sleep, we never insist upon it. As long as they are ready to go by about 8 am, everyone is able to go at his or her own pace.

The morning involves the usual routine of taking showers, eating breakfast, and taking medications. Needs among the residents vary quite widely, so that we could be showering and dressing some residents completely or simply providing verbal prompts such as, “don’t forget to brush your teeth” to others. It’s all very personalized.

Q: What happens once everyone is up and at ‘em?

A: The majority of the people we serve go to a SCARC day program Monday through Friday. Using SCARC’s specially equipped vehicles, we transport our residents to their day programs every weekday morning. These activities start at 8:30, which is why the individuals who live in our group homes need to be ready by 8 am.

Our staff picks up residents at about 2:30 after day programming wraps up. We try very hard to schedule all doctors’ appointments in the late afternoon and early evening hours. This way, we don’t have to disrupt the daytime routine and the residents don’t miss anything at their day programs. There are always a lot of doctors’ appointments to juggle, so that does take up a good amount of time.

However, we also do plenty of other activities in the evening. We arrange recreational outings and activities for the individuals we serve, such as bowling, horseback riding, and swimming. We also try to do one-on-one outings whenever possible (one staff and one resident), which helps to build the bond between staff and the individuals we serve.

Q: In the evenings, do you hold communal meals?

We do, yes. With the help of our staff nutritionist, we prepare heart-healthy meals that are also tailored to individual preferences as well as prescribed diets. While one meal is generally prepared for the whole group (with the exception of those with special diets), residents can choose not to eat what’s being served. If they don’t like that evening’s meal, they’re able to prepare (or ask for) something else, such as a sandwich or bowl of soup.

Q: What time does everyone go to bed? Do they have their own rooms?

Just like the mornings, there are no set bedtimes. An individual can stay up as late as he or she wants. We can encourage them to turn in, but we never force them. They’re adults and they can make their own choices; we simply try to help them learn to make responsible decisions. That said, if a resident is regularly staying up very late, we will meet with him or her and try to come up with a way to ensure he’s getting enough restorative sleep.

As for bedrooms, our standard here at SCARC is for everyone to have their own bedrooms. Some of our residents even have their own bathrooms. So, while SCARC’s older homes do not yet have separate bedrooms, all our newly built homes do. And of course, some residents like to share their bedrooms, while others prefer their own, so we try to accommodate these wishes as much as possible.

Staff stay up all night while the residents sleep. During this time, we clean the house, complete paperwork, prepare meals, and check on residents (some need to be checked on every hour).

Q: I assume the weekends look a bit different?

A: Yes, weekends in our group homes for adults with developmental disabilities are chock-full of activity! Often, residents spend time with family members, go home for visits, or participate in SCARC-run events and outings. Many residents attend their preferred house of worship, so we ensure they each get to these services. We might have five residents who want to go to five different churches on a Sunday morning—but we make it happen! We also go swimming, bowling, to the movies, to museums, and more. As much as possible, we encourage the residents to make suggestions regarding the activities they want us to schedule or participate in.

Q: It sounds like the residents have a lot of input regarding their daily lives.

They really do. We try to individualize everything. We have house rules, of course, but these are developed with plenty of input from the residents. And if they have questions or issues about anything at all, they know they can bring them to us, and we will hear them and do our best to resolve their concerns. We strive for as much normalcy as possible and want our residents to lead autonomous lives to the greatest degree possible.

Learn More About SCARC

Are you interested in gathering more information about SCARC’s group homes for adults with developmental disabilities? If so, we encourage you to contact us to schedule a tour of our facilities, ask questions, and learn more about our programs and services.