Recognizing the missing pieces: How LifeShare completed the puzzle to community living for Anthony
“When do I get out of here?” Anthony asked Kristine Meier, his behavioral health coordinator with Sunflower Health Plan.
After living at home with his mother, a fall sent Anthony to a nursing facility. This 55-year-old with intellectual disability and other chronic medical conditions (including diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and kidney disease) focused on healing, but once recovered, his mother was no longer able to care for him. Anthony had already remained in the nursing facility for eight months, and he was ready to regain the independence that living in the community provided.
“Though he was cheery and happy to have visits,” explained Kristine, “it was clear that he was ready to be back out in the community.” Kristine worked with Anthony to find an appropriate residential placement, but met barriers due to his extensive medical needs. “After seven months of searching nearby counties, it seemed we had hit a brick wall.”
Anthony and Kristine crossed paths again eight months later when she was asked once more to coordinate Anthony’s transition to community life, though this time she was working as an employee of LifeShare Management Group. She and his new Sunflower behavioral health coordinator, Jeff Wall, met with Anthony to complete a quality of life assessment to evaluate what areas of his life could be improved.
“When do I get out of here?” was his question once again, though this time with a less cheerful demeanor. Determined to find him a residential home, Kristine changed her search area to Topeka and accompanied Anthony on his tour to a home and day program called Game Time Living (GTL).
“From the moment Anthony met Jerry Kruger (owner of GTL),” notes Kristine, “an instant connection was made. Then he met the rest of the clients and it was like watching a piece of a puzzle come into the right place.
“Here, he was just one of the guys and I knew this was the place we were looking for, and when Anthony said ‘I like it here. I wanna live here,’ I knew the deal was sealed!” Kristine worked diligently with Anthony to ensure a smooth transition to his new home, which included choosing a targeted case manager to assist him in the community.
Becky Patterson, independent targeted case manager, was Anthony’s immediate choice, and was “another piece of the puzzle coming right into place” said Kristine.
In less than three months, and after consultations to ensure his medical needs would be supported, Anthony moved from the nursing facility into a duplex with GTL. After more than two years, the puzzle was now complete.
“In every step of the journey, Anthony was the primary driver of the decisions being made about his life,” explains Kristine. “His quality of life has vastly improved as a result of moving back into the community with the support of people who encourage his right to make his own choices and to be his own true self.”
Anthony now answers a resounding “YES!” when asked if he is happy, and he says, “I wanna stay here! Jerry is a nice guy and everybody here is nice to me.”