During the pandemic, group homes and day services closed across the state of Massachusetts. As a result, the number of people on waiting lists for services has grown longer and longer. The workforce shortage has made it difficult for agencies like Aspire Living & Learning to open much-needed new programs. By asking ourselves “What else could we do?” Aspire has found another way.
Steve Mendoza, Senior Director of Operations, reports “We’ve found a way to help people on the waitlist find a place to live and to offer more choices to them at the same time.”
At seven staffed Aspire residences across the state, extra bedrooms are being made available to people who are currently without residential services. This includes homes serving people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) as well as those with acquired brain injuries (ABI). The homes vary in size and accommodations.
With seven options to choose from, individuals will be able to choose the best fit for them after visiting the homes and meeting the people who live there.
Importantly, the current residents and staff of the homes are part of the conversation. As new referrals come in, residents will meet with each potential housemate. The decision to live together will be based on a consensus among the residents and potential housemate that there is a good fit.
By focusing on those with the most urgent housing needs, Aspire hopes to access additional funding being offered by the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. This funding would enable Aspire to provide environmental upgrades such as new furniture or lighting, improved staff retention efforts, and smart technology that will help folks become more independent.
Steve reports they are continuing to look at ways to increase Aspire’s capacity to serve the IDD and ABI communities in the context of the staffing shortage. Shared living, where a person shares a home with a paid provider, is much less reliant on staffing. Conversations to identify people currently living in staffed residences who want to pursue this living arrangement are ongoing.
“We’re hoping we can open up more spots in our staffed residences for people who need them, while helping others who want to move to shared living make that choice.”
If you, or anyone you know, is interested in becoming a shared living provider, check out Aspire’s eBook, “Is Becoming a Shared Living Provider Right for Me?”.