Group home, congregate living. The concept has become almost a dirty word. The push for community inclusion in homes with less than four persons is the current vanguard for the ID/DD community and those tasked with setting the regulations. At Heritage House, we hear from prospective individuals and their guardians that many area case managers extoll the virtues of our program then say as an aside, ‘but their houses are licensed for up to eight people’; exclaimed as if that puts an end to the discussion. For many it does. The horror stories and prevailing prejudice in the ID/DD world makes even the consideration of so many individuals under one roof seem like something not worthy of consideration. At Heritage House we focus on the individual and their possibilities.
Heritage House sees the advantages of community and inclusion in a warm home environment. Our homes reinforce mutual responsibility, social interaction and concern for others through the development of trust and respect. The individuals develop not only their skills in the mechanics of everyday life activities; they develop the social skills to engage in meaningful interactions with others. It is not that they have to interact with their peers, they want to. A variety of personalities and levels of abilities allows each individual the opportunity to nurture, learn and relate with people that become like family.
Time and again Heritage House programs are seen as setting the bar for expectations. Licensing and regulatory agency representatives have expressed that if they needed a placement for a family member, this is where they would come first. Our program works not only for the people we serve but also for the people who work here with over 75% of our staff having four or more years tenure.
At Heritage House we work to consistently expand the possibilities in each individuals life by allowing more varied and more frequent interactions than would normally occur in a sponsored residential or supervised apartment setting. While community integration is a laudable concept and hopefully an eventuality, most individuals in other settings have very little interaction with their neighbors and a community that struggles to understand them with the unfortunate result being a sense of isolation. At Heritage House we have developed an intentional community; one that fosters growth and camaraderie. We have learned that what really matters is the human community, not the physical community. For many a scheduled communal meal may make more sense than that individual eating alone in an apartment. Heritage House represents a choice that can make sense for your family. We argue that it can be seen as another form of discrimination that intellectually disabled adults cannot thrive in a community of their own making. By putting people first and celebrating community we at Heritage House thrive.