I entered this field with some goals. One is to get people living in institutions into the community. In those days, the primary goals were to promote achievement that would result in greater freedom, tremendous respect as an influential citizen, and more choices. I hit ample opportunities in the creation of the waiver funding. Through waiver funding, many folks received the financial support they needed to move, and many picked their furniture and arranged it for the first time. It was exciting to watch!
We had very few criteria to apply when thinking about this transplanting option, and we knew there would be plenty of support in the community to help someone grow into their new world. The criteria we started with included the following:
- If the fire alarm went off, you needed to be able to get yourself out in 2.5 minutes or less.
- You needed to be able to use the phone independently.
- A sandwich or bowl of cereal and juice was okay to make a meal, but not cooked.
- To be able to self-direct some activity, watch TV or engage in a hobby.
- To move around outside and cross the street without assistance.
- Attend to your personal needs: bathe, dress, and comb your hair independently.
- You had to set boundaries, for example, not giving money to strangers or not letting a stranger in your home.
Residents in institutions who were offered this opportunity grabbed it. Some families were initially worried, but we quickly clarified that staff would provide support along the way, and they quickly got on board.
Staff were available on a schedule to help you get where you needed to go, cook with you, shop with you, give you medication, and teach any of these necessary skills. Once people arrived in their new homes, the growth we saw was outstanding!
We know that transplanting is an opportunity to learn. But sometimes, we wait too long and think the risks are too significant. But just like those plants which need extra care once you move them, so too will people who move into new spaces.
Recently, the Supported Independent Living program at KenCrest started working with a woman, knowing that she would be having a baby in about four months. It was a new challenge for us to learn how to support a new mom best. We helped her move into a new independent space.
This young woman had ambition. Even while pregnant, into her last month, she made the trek to work. She needed encouragement to understand that it was okay to receive help and resources from us and to trust her team.
The main goal and focus of our time with her have been education around having a baby and caring for the baby and herself. Throughout those four months, she diligently went through car seat training, signed up for nutritional resources, utilized early head start and nurse/baby programs in her community, found a doctor for her child, and took post-partum mental health education classes. Her team has done an excellent job sharing information with her on this journey!
Most recently, she has accepted some technology into her home so that she can stay in touch with her team through remote support. One might guess that having visitors daily could become overwhelming when you’re already sleep deprived! Her team discussed remote support with her so she could still receive some guidance and be comfortable in her own home alone.
Helping this young woman move into a whole new life was not easy and did not happen overnight. It took lots of brainstorming, listening, creative thinking, and time to develop trust. There are always hiccups, but Mom understands that we will be there to support her and offer the resources we can to help her reach her goals.
Let’s not hold people back from this opportunity. Our logo is a tree for a reason.