I often write and give advice on how individuals and families should choose the right group home placement. However, there are some things that group homes should consider when taking in residents. Group homes should try not to take on residents they can’t handle. However, there are times when group homes need a resident due to low census and the case manager needs an emergency placement. These situations tend to be short-term solutions for both the group home and the resident. But there are areas that group homes should be considered to increase the chances of long-term success. This post will focus on group homes that serve those who have a primary diagnosis of developmental and intellectual disabilities.
One of the most important factors to consider is the level of care you intend to provide for your residents. Group homes can serve a wide range of clientele including individuals who have significant physical and medical needs. This could include people who require g-tube feedings, help with wound dressings, and other skilled nursing requirements. Providing care for these individuals require significantly more staffing and effort. Support staff will also need training to provide these additional supports.
Other needs to consider before accepting residents include:
Ambulatory/Non-Ambulatory: This refers to the ability to move about independently. This may require additional accommodations such as ramps and wider doorways. Non- ambulatory residents may also require additional support with bathing, dressing, and transferring from bed to chair, etc.
In addition, extra expenses may be required such a wheelchair accessible van and stair lifts to assist with mobility.
Behavior is another critical factor that group homes must consider before accepting a resident. A resident with a history of physical aggression, property destruction, or elopement can present significant costs and potential liability to the group home. Its’ important that group homes carefully examine all documentation and reports before considering taking someone with significant behavioral needs.
Group homes should determine if they are prepared to work with clients who may have major behavioral issues. They will need staff who are experienced working with challenging behaviors and be up to date on all trainings involving the management of aggressive behaviors. Providers usually make this determination early in the process. Understanding the type of resident you can handle will save more time and stress down the road with admitting and discharging people that are not a good fit.
Residents who have a sex offender history or significant mental health issues along with intellectual disability should receive significantly more evaluation before acceptance into any residential program. In some states, sex offenders with intellectual disabilities can be legally placed in group homes with others with similar disabilities. This poses a major safety issue for the most vulnerable residents. Some have suggested that sex offenders be placed in completely separate homes with other sex offenders. This option has its own pros and cons. Higher functioning sex offenders may prey on lower functioning offenders and create a major liability for the home. Sex offenders may also cause issues within the neighborhood. Depending on the individual circumstances, sex offenders must live a certain distance from schools, parks, etc. Neighbors can also find home and work location as well as conviction information on state police websites.
Gender is always a major factor in selecting residents. Most group homes that I encounter tend to separate males from females. However, co-ed group homes are starting to become more acceptable in recent years. In the past, group homes were separated for the obvious potential liability that comes with having males and females in the same home.
The current residents could be one of the most important factors in determining whether or not to accept a new resident. Behaviors that may disrupt the current environment may not be worth the extra income. One disruptive resident could cause the current residents to request a new placement. In addition, disruptive behaviors may be mimicked by the other residents in the home.
In addition, a resident that requires more medical attention than the rest of the home could limit activities for the other residents or require more support staff to accommodate those needs.
Group home owners have to consider a number of issues to consider before accepting new residents. They have to determine how these factors will impact costs for staffing and any additional accommodations. They also have to evaluate how the new resident will impact current residents. Making careful evaluations can ensure that the resident can be served appropriately and have a great experience while causing minimal changes for current residents.