Future Living Arrangements for Your Child Who Has a Visual Impairment and Multiple Disabilities

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There is a range of residential options available for adults with vision impairments and multiple disabilities. Which will best meet your grown child’s desires and needs as well as the needs of your entire family?

Listed below are living arrangements for adults with mild disabilities and living arrangements for adults with significant disabilities who require lifelong support. A brief summary of each possibility is provided, including advantages and disadvantages.

Supported Living (Individualized Housing Options)

Your adult child may choose to own or rent living quarters. Using a variety of funding sources, your child can hire staff to assist with any activities of daily living, home maintenance, or medical support. Your child, with professional case management support, if needed, can also hire qualified assistants and/or pay natural supporters such as trusted neighbors or friends to provide reinforcement needed to live independently.

The advantages of supported living include:

  • Age-appropriate independent living
  • The pride of owning or renting a residence
  • Living in a personally desirable area, perhaps near natural supports (family or friends), public transportation, and work opportunities
  • Living within the general community

For an individual who is prepared to live in individualized housing and for an adult who desires to live independently or with roommates, there are no disadvantages.

Group Home

Your grown child could choose to live in a home with two to six adults who also have disabilities. The housemates would support each other with help from paid support staff. Depending on the needs of the group home residents, the staff could be full-time or part-time, even overnight or live-in.

The advantages of a group home include:

  • Age-appropriate independence from the family of origin
  • Mutual support socially, emotionally, and physically
  • Pooled resources with which to pay support staff

The disadvantages of residing in a group home include a minimal separation from the general community, as your child would live only with people who have disabilities.

Supports at a Family Home

You and your grown child may wish to continue living together, or your child may live with siblings, extended family, or family friends. In this situation, your child can take advantage of the natural support within the household and draw on a variety of funding sources to hire support staff. Your child can pay reasonable room and board to the family from earned income or government benefits. Additionally, the family can receive occasional, government-funded breaks from caretaking by hiring temporary, full-time assistants.

The advantages of supports at the family home include:

  • Living with loved ones
  • A stable, intimate environment
  • Support from family and paid staff
  • Living within the general community

The disadvantages of supports at the family home may include:

  • Desire for independence
  • Absence of the social benefits of living with peers
  • May not be a permanent solution, as aging parents may not be able to care for the adult child his entire life
  • Stress of full-time caretaking, which can exhaust and deplete well-intentioned family members

Adult Foster Care

If your child resides in an adult foster care setting, he would pay a willing and licensed family to provide room and board. This is a wonderful option for an adult who desires to live in a family-like environment and whose own family is unable to provide residence or who is transitioning to living apart from relatives. The "foster family" can support one another, and your child can hire staff for meeting specific needs.

The advantages of residing in a foster care setting include:

  • Living as a family unit instead of living in an institutional setting
  • Opportunity to give as well as receive support from a family
  • A stable living environment (no staff turnover) as long as the family is willing and able to foster
  • Living within the general community

For an adult who desires to live in a family unit and who is residing in a healthy foster family unit, there are no disadvantages.

Assisted Living Facilities/Nursing Homes

Your child could live in one room of an assisted living facility or nursing home designed for seven or more adults with a range of disabilities. Provisions include housekeeping, laundry, meal preparation, transportation, 24-hour support staff, and onsite medical staff. Assisted living facilities often provide social and recreational activities as well as employment and daily living skills classes.

The advantages of residing in an assisted living facility include:

  • Long-term physical support and daily living services
  • On-site medical staff, often including physical and occupational therapy
  • Transportation services
  • Opportunities to socialize with individuals who also have disabilities
  • Opportunities to participate in available classes
  • Stability of remaining in one place

The disadvantages of residing in an assisted living facility include separation from the general community, and residing in an institutional setting that is not as intimate as a family setting.

Funding Sources

Regardless of the preferred residential arrangement, funding sources may include:

  1. State Funding, including state-funded Medicaid Personal Care and individual state services and supports. If state funding is used, the residential facility must be within the state.

  2. Federal Funding, including Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) (if the individual has previously earned income), and federally funded Medicaid.

  3. Special Needs Trust - This is a trust fund established by the individual's guardian that has been funded by gifts, inheritances, or a personal injury settlement.

There is no one ideal living arrangement that meets the needs of every adult with significant disabilities. Your child is unique, with unique goals, desires, and required support levels. Furthermore, as your child ages and seeks independence, and as your family unit matures and transitions through life’s seasons, the ideal living environment may shift.

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