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Life In A Group Home

Originally Posted: June 05, 2010

Frank Lombardi

  |   9 Comments · Print Article

There are many different types of group homes providing care for a wide variety of people. (Lombardi)

Manorville - What is a Group Home? I wish I had a nickel for every time I have been asked this question over the past decade. Many people do not know what a group home is or what its purpose is within the community. There are many different types of group homes providing care for a wide variety of people such as recovering addicts, disabled veterans, or those with mental illness. One type of group home that may not be as well known on the East End is one where people with developmental disabilities reside. These homes have been in our communities for more than 35 years yet they still carry with them an unfortunate negative stigma. Many people have a pre-conceived notion about what a group home is and what goes on inside, as well as how they are conceived and who oversees them. Maybe we can dispel some of these prejudices with a little bit of knowledge and understanding.

Group homes for people with developmental disabilities began to develop on Long Island shortly after the Willowbrook Consent Decree was enacted in 1975. Today, there are hundreds of group homes throughout Long Island that allow people with developmental disabilities to experience the security and comfort of a home-like environment, while receiving the specialized care they require. Most of these homes are overseen by a not-for-profit agency that provides specially trained staff that is responsible for the direct care of the residents within the home.

Once an agency selects a group of developmentally disabled men, women, or children to reside in a group home, the design and planning of the actual house begins. The agency will work with staff from the Long Island Developmental Disabilities Services Organization (LIDDSO) as well as with the future residents and their families to design and build a home that best meets their needs. When construction is complete and the home is certified to meet all regulatory requirements it's time to move in!

The typical group home will have three to 12 people living in it all with similar disabilities. Each person is urged to participate in all activities within the home including household chores. The day will usually begin with residents getting ready for their busy day. Making beds, self-grooming, getting dressed, and breakfast are all part of the morning routine. Then, it's off to work and school.

Group home residents are active during the day and do not sit idle in their homes. Children who live in a group home still have to go to school and many of the adults work in various jobs within our communities. Those who cannot work, attend day habilitation programs that provide vocational training to prepare them for the workforce.

After completing a long and productive day, residents are eager to get back home to relax and participate in a variety of recreational activities. Dinner is prepared, with the assistance of the staff, and enjoyed by the residents as they sit and eat as one big family. When the table is cleared and dirty dishes are tended to, it's time to have a little fun!

Movies, bowling, church socials, barbeques, and even the occasional Ducks game are some of the recreational activities the residents enjoy. Or maybe they just want to relax and watch TV or play a video game. It's their choice - that's the beauty of a group home. They encourage growth for residents to live a more independent life while providing them with a genuine sense of belonging; and, most importantly, to continually nurture their physical, psychological and emotional growth.

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Guest (Wes) from Lacey WA says::
I wish this were true. Sadly, my Uncle's experience in Group Homes is the exact opposite. He's not allowed control over his money or foodstamps. He can't work, and there is nothing planned for him to do during the long, boring days and evenings. He's not given his choice over meals. He's told that either he prepares all of them himself, or the staff prepares all meals. There's no room to negotiate. Sometimes his roommates are verbally and physically violent. Sometimes they run up to my Uncle shouting profanity. Sometimes they run up and hit my Uncle. But my Uncle is told to just stay away from them until they calm down. My Uncle has compared living in a Group Home to being in jail, only worse. He'd have to break the law to go to jail, and they'd tell him how long he has to stay there.
Aug 17, 2011 12:37 am

Guest (grease) from st louis says::
hi frank i like your infor about this group home i never lived in a group home before. i hope to see the homes.
Jul 17, 2011 10:53 am

Guest (Debbie Baer) from HRD says::
Very informative article, Frank. IGHL has proven to be an asset to communities and some of the fears of the early years of IGHL were founded on misinformation. You provided a good picture of daily life at a group home - not much different than any other home in that community.
Jun 9, 2010 2:25 pm

Guest (n. hahn) from flanders says::
i have visited many agencies in several states and have a strong basis of comparison. when i first began the process of exploration i did not understand how group homes worked. when i visited ighl many years ago i realized that a group home was the best option for an individual with disabilities. ighl continues to meet the needs of its residents on a daily basis. programs are unique to the individual from the foods they prefer to the activities they enjoy. you certainly capture the flavor of the program. very well written article.
Jun 9, 2010 1:01 pm

Guest (Jay Williams) from Service Coordination says::
Frank, Thanks for taking a step towards changing some of the preconceived negative feelings that some people may have about group homes and the consumers that call them home.
Jun 9, 2010 7:33 am

Guest (GREG CELI) from W. H. B., NY says::
Frank, It's just like you not to mention that, so many of the very people you have enabled throughout the years to achieve their independence, now work at your headquarters, and I might add do a wonderful job. So I commend you both in your writing skills as well as your compassion for for the people in your care. Keep up the good work. Sincerely, Greg Celi
Jun 8, 2010 5:52 pm

Guest (Violet Woodward) from Finance says::
Frank, very well done article. So many people are unaware of our population as I was when I started with IGHL 22 years ago. Now there isn't a consumer that I've met that I haven't fallen in love with. Working in the finance department didn't give me the chance to really get to know them and know exactly what does go on in our homes. Now, not only do I work one on one with several of our consumers through our grant programs, I occasionaly get to fill in at our Barnes Road Residence which I just love. It's amazing to see what they are capable of and the love they give you back for just doing the smallest task for them. I love IGHL and what it stands for and it would not be possible without Walter Stockon and all of our dedicated employees that make IGHL a family.
Jun 8, 2010 11:01 am

Guest (Dan Fardella) from Babylon, NY says::
Thank you Frank for that fine profile. After having experienced the kind of work IGHL does first hand, I can certainly add that it takes a very special talent to make the best of challenging situations like these. The facility at Eastport has been extraordinary. From what I can see, my son knows that he is surrounded by friends.
Jun 8, 2010 10:29 am

Guest (Joe Calaban) from Annex says::
Nice Picture! Very nice article Frank. I get the same questions when dealing with vendors and support personnel.
Jun 8, 2010 8:57 am


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