What is Shared Living?
Shared Living is exactly that: people sharing their lives by living together under the same roof as a family. Shared Living is highly personalized and offers people with disabilities a great opportunity to choose the person(s) with whom they will live and have a lot of control over how they live their day-to-day lives.
There are many different arrangements that we can develop based on the needs of the person and their situation. The person who lives with and provides support to the person with a disability is called the "Shared Living Provider". The Shared Living Provider lives with the person and provides whatever support(s) the person needs in their day-to-day activities. Many Shared Living Providers work outside the home, and continue to have some time to enjoy on their own. Most people with disabilities in Shared Living either work or volunteer in the community and have some type of a day program. A Shared Living arrangement is usually in the Shared Living Provider's home/apartment, but it could be possible in the individual's home/apartment.
Some examples of a Shared Living arrangements include:
•A 20-year-old man, lives with Tom, a 40-year-old widower in John's apartment. They both love to fish and watch baseball games.
•An 18-year-old woman with a full-time job, lives in the home of Peter and Kim, who have a 14-year-old, 4-year-old and a 12-month-old baby. They are very active in many of their community events including the annual parade.
•A 48-year-old man, lives with a married couple where the wife still works but the husband is retired with lots of spare time.
•A 27-year-old woman leaving her home for the first time, shares and apartment with Sarah, a 28-year-old single professional.
•A young married couple, live in an in-law apartment in the home of Betty and Tom who are an older retired couple.
Shared Living arrangements can have a significant positive impact on the quality of life of people with disabilities. While the benefit to the person is the driving force behind this option, there are other notable benefits as well. Shared Living is less costly to the system than group home living. It is also a nice way for individuals and families who are open to sharing their homes and lives with the "right someone" to enhance their household income. People in families and communities come to know and appreciate the people with disabilities who are living in Shared Living arrangements. As a result, all people with disabilities benefit from the increased community awareness of the value, potential and many contributions people with disabilities can make to their communities. This option can be long term for some individuals, but the ultimate goal is for each to move on to a more independent living arrangement.
How do I get involved in a Shared Living Arrangement?
If you are a person with a disability who would like to move into a Shared Living arrangement: The flexibility of Shared Living allows services to be designed individually to respond to the specific needs and preferences of the persons being served. The level of support and the intensity of services can then be adapted to meet the individual's changing needs over time. Please contact Community Living Association to inquire into this type of living arrangement. If assistance is needed, please feel free to ask someone with whom you feel comfortable to help you make the initial contact.
If you already know someone you would like to share your life with through a Shared Living arrangement: It may be possible! There are certain requirements such as background checks of all adults in the home, as well as certain home safety requirements. Many successful arrangements have occurred between people who enjoy one another's company and want to share their lives in an improved way.
If you want to become a Shared Living Provider: You can do this through an Authorized Placement Agency for Shared Living! These agencies will recruit, train and consult with Shared Living Providers. However, the role of the Shared Living Provider in not the same as the traditional staff person. A Shared Living Provider's role entails that of an advocate, friend, mentor and support provider, who will not only share their home with a person with developmental disability, but will assist the individual with connecting to the community, teaching new skills, developing friendships and making life choices that will lead to a satisfying, safe and productive lifestyle. Individuals who serve as Shared Living Providers are independent contractors, and will be certified following an application and review process. CLA's Shared Living Coordinator provides SLS providers with on-going support and consultation services. The coordinator also functions as an important liaison for the individual, the provider, community and DHHS, ensuring that the individual is well supported in his or her activities of choice.
Contact CLA's Shared Living Coordinator Terri-Leigh Michaud at 532-9446 ext. 1116 or by e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org