Being a LifeShare Home Provider - Enhancing the Quality of Life for Individuals and Families
For Newton, NH, LifeShare home provider Michelle, the best one word of advice she offers to individuals, couples, or families considering opening their home to a person with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD) and/or other challenges, is “rewarding.”
“It’s rewarding,” she explains, “knowing you have made a great impact in someone’s life.”
"That impact is trusting and loving each other."
Powerful words from an experienced home provider who has opened her family’s home - and hearts - to individuals for more than 10 years and has provided a typical family environment for 31-year-old Danielle since 2006.
With the Granite State leading the way in the nation’s transition of individuals with I/DD and other disabilities, even prior to the American’s with Disabilities Act becoming the law of the land 25 years ago, LifeShare has been a leader in community inclusion, with programs such as home providers and individual day programming. LifeShare has never supported group homes or sheltered workshops.
It was at the suggestion of Michelle’s sister’s service coordinator that she consider the idea of becoming a LifeShare home care provider. With the support of her husband and sons, Michelle and her family embarked on a new journey in which Danielle demonstrates her love for them daily while making them proud of her ongoing accomplishments.
“Danielle has definitely blossomed while living with Michelle and her family,” said LifeShare Associate Director of Residential Services, Samantha Murch. “She has begun communicating her likes and dislikes in methods she didn’t use before.”
She has become a part of Michelle’s family completely, but without losing the connection to her own family, Samantha added. In fact, Danielle’s family has been welcomed into Michelle’s family as well.
“Nine years of the families being in a relationship with each other has benefited Danielle in every way possible,” said Samantha. “She has the pride of a young woman who has moved from her childhood home to continue her growth.
Each individual seeking home care has unique needs, making a successful placement a strategy of finding the right match between the individual and a family. When that right match is made, amazing things can happen.
Said Michelle, “Having Danielle come into our home has added a loved member to our family.” Danielle vacations with Michelle and her family and especially loves to go camping with them.
Being a home care provider does have its challenges, as does any new endeavor. Danielle is nonverbal and has medical issues. However, Michelle takes it all in stride. “We do what we can, one thing at a time.” She added that she has support from LifeShare’s day staff and has received training to help Danielle/s medical issues.
LifeShare’s home care providers open their homes to individuals who may have I/DD, traumatic brain injury, autism, mental health challenges, or other neurodevelopmental disability. Depending on the person’s individualized care plan, providers may assist with activities of daily living, personal care, money management, transportation, and independent living skills development. Community activity participation is highly encouraged so individuals not only feel they are a member of a family but that they are participating members of the community.
Additionally, although an individual lives in the home, he or she may participate in a LifeShare day program outside of the home. For example, Danielle spends four to six hours a day and has “alone time” as part of her individual support plan, allowing private time for family members.
Home care providers go through a comprehensive screening process and receive extensive training and ongoing support. Providers are compensated with a generous annual tax-free stipend.