Housing program helps disabled

A growing number of families in the Henrico area are opening up their homes to individuals with mental and/or developmental disabilities through a service called sponsored residential living, an alternative to group homes that offers disabled citizens an opportunity to live more normal lives.

Wall Residences was the first organization in the state to offer a sponsored residential living program. It works with more than 10 local human rights committees and serves more than 434 people throughout the state to provide services for those who have been diagnosed with intellectual disabilities, mental illness, and/or developmental disabilities.

Formed in 1995 by Jack Wall, a former director of mental retardation services and member of two community service boards in Virginia, the organization seeks to offer an alternative from group homes that allowed individuals with these disabilities to live with normal families, similar to adult foster care. Wall had seen the same idea in other states but at the time there was no such program in Virginia.

Like Wall Residences, other organizations throughout the Richmond area such as Dominion Waiver, Support Services of Virginia and REM, have transitioned from offering only group home services to offering residential housing services for those with mental disabilities over the past few years.

The biggest difference between group homes and residential services is a person-centeredness approach, according to Sharon Stroble, regional director for Wall Residences.

“It is so much more individualized than a group home setting,” Stroble said. “The ability of a family to meet the needs of one or two individuals is far greater; there is a natural connection to be made, and real relationships to be formed, and no changing shifts. These individuals have the opportunity to live a ‘normal’ life and feel fully supported.”

Group homes also may have limited activities for individuals and lack the freedom that sponsored residential living can provide.

Making a match
Typically when individuals with mental or developmental disabilities are seeking living arrangements their case manager with the Henrico Community Services Board will discuss the option of sponsored residential living; then the individual is carefully matched with a family. The settings vary based upon the unique needs and preferences of the individuals and their providers.

“With this program it really is all about the needs of the individual and the type of home and life that they are seeking out,” said Stroble. “The goal is to ensure that it’s a positive experience for everyone involved and that it provides stability and care that these individuals need and want.”

Through sponsored residential living, those with disabilities can experience and learn about safety skills, hygiene, socialization, decision-making, money management and increased independence. Often the individuals will get a job, or in some cases start a small business that they can operate from the house.

Providers or the families who are part of sponsored residential living are typically people who have a minimum of one year experience in the field working with individuals with mental or developmental issues. For example, a provider may be a special education teacher, work at a mental health facility, be a LPN/RNA or have similar experience.

In some cases, there are people that want to be providers but don’t have the knowledge or experience; Wall Residences offers in-depth training courses and ongoing education.

“Providers are excited about the opportunity to make a difference. When someone wishes to be a provider they are evaluated by Wall Residences to determine they have the proper experience with individuals,” said Stroble. “They need to have experience with behavioral challenges, provide a safe and appropriate environment and be committed to sharing their lives with someone who needs significant support.”

Providers are paid $11.56 an hour at Wall Residences, and a typical support plan is anywhere from 80-110 hours a week. Other programs throughout the area offer similar pay rates that are determined through an intellectual disability (ID) waiver because the services are provided through Medicaid.

The types of families that want to serve as providers varies. It might be a husband and wife with grown children out of the house or a family with five children, Stroble said.

“Residential housing is a wonderful way for somebody to give an individual a real quality of life and sense of family in cases where that opportunity may have not been available,” said Stroble. “It’s also very cost-effective and offers a much better experience for the individual.”

For details about the Wall Residences program, visit http://wallresidences.com.
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Henrico Schools to host College and Career Night Nov. 1

Students of all ages are invited to investigate options for life after high school at Henrico County Public Schools’ 2017 College and Career Night. The annual countywide event offers a chance to talk with representatives of more than 100 universities, colleges and professional programs, as well as about 50 representatives of career options such as businesses and branches of the military.

College and Career Night will take place Wednesday, Nov. 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Henrico High School, 302 Azalea Ave. > Read more.

Business in brief

Henrico-based nonprofit Commonwealth Autism recently received the Standards for Excellence Institute’s Seal of Excellence for successfully completing its accreditation program. Commonwealth Autism voluntarily opened itself to analysis by a peer review team during the last 18 months that examined the organization’s compliance with the “Standards for Excellence: An Ethics and Accountability Code for the Nonprofit Sector.” These standards cover areas such as: mission, strategy and evaluation; leadership – board, staff and volunteers; legal compliance and ethics; finance and operations; resource development; and public awareness, engagement and advocacy. Commonwealth Autism was one of six organizations in the Richmond region to be recognized and the first in the region to achieve full accreditation. In addition to this accreditation, Commonwealth Autism is recognized as an Accredited Charity with the Richmond Better Business Bureau and holds accreditation from the Code of Ethics for Behavioral Organizations (COEBO). > Read more.

Purify Infrared Sauna opens at GreenGate

Purify Infrared Sauna recently opened its second Henrico location at GreenGate Shopping Center in Short Pump.

Owner Mary Woodbridge opened her first Purify location on Patterson Avenue in July 2015. The new store is located at 301 Maltby Boulevard, Suite C, west of Short Pump Town Center. > Read more.

Henrico Master Gardener training program accepting applications through Oct. 27

The Henrico County Office of Virginia Cooperative Extension is accepting applications for its next volunteer Master Gardener training program, which provides instruction in all aspects of horticulture.

Applications for the 2018 training program will be accepted through Friday, Oct. 27. Classes will be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays from Jan. 16 through March 22. > Read more.

Henrico Schools to host Oct. 30 job fair

Henrico Schools will host a job fair Oct. 30.

The event, to be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Fairfield branch library, is designed to attract potential full-time and substitute registered nurses, instructional assistants, bus drivers and school nutrition workers. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017

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The Race to Cure Sarcoma Richmond, a 5K walk/run organized by the Sarcoma Foundation of America (SFA), will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Dorey Park. Proceeds will raise both awareness and resources for sarcoma research nationally through the SFA and locally through the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center. On-site registration is $40. For details, visit http://tinyurl.com/RaceToCureSarcoma. Full text

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