BY: John Campbell
DATE: June 23, 2004

Wanted: three family homes for individuals with intellectual disabilities.

Community Living Campbellford/Brighton is hoping that a direct appeal to the public will work.

“A shortage of family home providers in our service area has created an immediate emergency,” executive director Chris Grayson said.

One of the individuals, an adult male in his late 20s, is currently without a home, and two others, both female also in their 20s, will find themselves in the same situation by the end of the month.

The families who provided them with homes have decided to retire because of their age.

It’s “a crisis” Community Living knew was coming but it “hit quicker than we were able to plan for, and that’s why we need help from the community,” Mr. Grayson said.

The non-profit organization so far has received a half-dozen responses and one may lead to a family joining the support program. But many more are needed, now and in the near future, because other providers are nearing the age of retirement as well.

“We need to become more aggressive at promoting what (the program) is, and how you can get involved,” Mr. Grayson said.

“We’ve been lucky in the past that, as the situation arose, we were able to respond before the crisis hit.”

John (not his real name), who is currently without a home, is staying at a residence Community Living operates in Warkworth but “it’s not really an appropriate environment for him or for the people who live there,” Mr. Grayson said. “Unfortunately, it’s all we have available at the moment. We’ve been calling our colleagues around the area, and the government, to try to find something else but so far to no avail.”

John’s father, Gerry, who lives in Parham north of Kingston, said his son has been “very happy” since he was accepted into the family home support program almost 10 years ago.

“The association has been excellent in providing him a variety of activities, and helping him develop his social skills.”

Having John return home to live “isn’t an option” because he and his wife have “health issues,” Gerry said.

Getting involved in the family home support program “is easy,” Mr. Grayson said: Call Maureen Hughson, manager of supports and services, at 705-653-1821, ext 29, to set up an interview.

The “intake process” includes screening and training. Those approved will be matched with an individual “with similar interests.”

Families will be provided opportunities for holidays, weekends off and periodic relief, based on their needs and those of the individual who has joined the household, Mr. Grayson said.

Compensation includes a per diem rate of $10.20. But getting involved in the program is not about making money, “it’s about being able to support somebody’s enhanced independence within a community environment,” Mr. Grayson said.
Virginia Morrow is proud to have been a member of the family home support network since its inception in 1987. The “big thing” is “to get to know the individual,” she said.

Once you do, “it’s just like having another child in the house. They become “part of the family. They settle in… Anyone I’ve been involved with becomes quite independent.”

Community Living’s family home program, which currently supports 24 individuals, won a Donner Canadian Foundation award last year for services for people with disabilities.