Friday, July 26, 2013

I’m Moving on Up!

When you are eighteen, and the legal age of adulthood, the last thing you want to do is hang out with little kids.  Joey wanted nothing more than to be an independent adult since graduating from high school and moving onto Wendell Foster’s Campus (WFC). When Joey moved to WFC, the only room available on Campus was in Cottage D.  Centre Pointe’s Cottage D serves primarily our younger population.   Upon Joey’s arrival, the youngest resident was eight years, and most of those living in Cottage D were not as verbal or interactive as Joey.   This sociable fun-loving young man was not getting his social needs met the same way he did with his high school friends.  Joey did not mind his Cottage mates; he just did not relate to them, being the oldest kid on the block.  Staff recognized that a strong social network was important to Joey, himself a social butterfly.  So when an opening became available in Cottage C less than a year after his arrival, staff and Joey worked together to make the transfer.

Excited about the move, Joey recognized the opportunity to hang out with other grown-ups closer to his age; but Joey admitted he was nervous about the move.  Again, another adjustment took place as he developed new friendships, and worked with new staff that had to orient themselves to Joey’s personality, his care plans and needs.  His homesickness eased as he settled in at Cottage C.  Joey did not like having a roommate, which prevented him from staying up all night and watching movies.  Joey still did not like the daily structure that comes with living in a healthcare facility, but dealt with it.  He kept busy with recreational activities and his therapies.  This transition was less stressful, and while Joey was grateful for the move, his free spirit was still unhappy.  Joey did not have the independence he imagined he would have after leaving home.
This nineteen-year-old bright young man was aware of another WFC program called the Supports for Community Living (SCL).  This program has eight houses that offers 24-hour staff access.  They focus on promoting the independence and maximum potential of each individual, which appealed to Joey.  He saw SCL as an opportunity to get the independent life he wanted.  Living in an SCL house would be like how friends his age lived:  with roommates verses a “healthcare” setting with fifteen other people.  The idea appealed to Joey, and he envisioned this program offering him the kind of independence he found elusive at WFC.  Joey relentlessly pursued his new goal with fervor and passion.

Joey spoke to SCL’s “powers-that-be” about moving into one of the program’s eight houses.  At the time, no openings were available, nor would there be unless WFC built a new SCL house, or unfortunately, someone passed away.   Joey made his interest well known with the SCL staff that he wanted to fill the next available opening.  He continued to inquire about it, reminding SCL staff of his interest.  Sadly, an opening became available a year and a half later when one of our long time SCL individuals unexpectedly passed away.  The Campus and SCL took the news hard, but the loss created an opening for Joey to transfer into the program.  His journey of moving into a house of three, to greater independence he began. 
Mind you, there are oodles of state regulations to meet, and hoops to jump through when moving into a SCL house.  The process is nothing like moving into an apartment.  Many, many team meetings would take place with WFC staff, Joey, and a state representative from the Money Follows the Person, a state transitional agency that supports individuals with disabilities in independent living.  These meetings discuss the process, the plan of action, and progress in working with the state agency to clear any hurdles to facilitate Joey’s move into a SCL home  Stoked, Joey was willing to do whatever it took to make his dream of living in a real “grown-up” house happen.  The first meeting was set for the morning of February 8, 2012. 

Unfortunately, what was an exciting day became dark and gloomy as Joey got bad news later in the afternoon.  Little did anyone know how windy the road would be for Joey as he began his quest for his independent living. 
In the Next Blog Entry: I'm Gonna Move that Mountain - "Joey sang his food order with the McRap song. . . The unsuspecting McDonald's clerk did not get the joke."

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