EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – A big question for families of people with disabilities is how to provide them with the best experience and how to allow them independence but with safe supervision and necessary assistance.
Eyewitness News’ Shelley Kirk spoke with Christy Gogel and Suzanne Ailstock, residential coordinators for Easterseals Group Homes, to talk about options for those with disabilities looking for more independence and a sense of home.
If you’d like more information about this program, call 812-437-2617.
Shelley Kirk: A big question for families of people with disabilities is how to provide their loved one with the best experience. How to allow them independence, but with safe supervision and necessary assistance.
There are places in the tristate that provide exactly that and today we are finding out more about them. Here to talk about it is Christy Gogel and Suzanne Ailstock, residential coordinators for Easterseals Group Homes. So, thank you guys for being here and talking about this. First of all, explain to us: what is a group home?
Christy Gogel: Actually, a group home serves 8 people with intellectual and mental disabilities. They’re just interspersed amongst our community. Most of the time, people don’t realize we’re here, which is why it’s so important to be here and get the word out. We have 24hr staffing in the home and they provide the daily care based on the client’s needs.
Shelley Kirk: So how much assistance does that come down to? What does that mean?
Christy Gogel: It just varies client to client. We do full care so, toileting, bathing, feeding, dressing, anything they may need. Hire functioning clients, we’ll work on balancing check books, or attending day services or a job, those sort of things.
Shelley Kirk: There’s someone there all the time, is someone there 24/7? Does someone sleep there with them?
Suzanne Ailstock: There’s staff there 24 hours a day. Staff during the third shift stay awake so they can take care of any needs they may have.
Shelley Kirk: And you mentioned group homes are interspersed in the community and you might not realize it’s right there in your neighborhood because they’re regular homes and it gives them a real sense of being home. Is it able to give that client, that person with the disability, some sense of independence or are they always monitored?
Christy Gogel: Well, no. We do provide 24-hour staffing, so when they’re not with us, we do have go with them and supervise – we do get them out in the community, and they go to the movies and the mall. We have – historically – had clients with goals of wanting to go to NASCAR races. We’ve had staff go with them to the Brick Yard 500 and those sorts of things. So, really the sky is the limit as far as getting out in the community based on what their desires or wants are.
Shelley Kirk: It sounds like it’s dependent on the person with that disability whether that disability affects their life and how much you all assist them. How is this better than living at home with your own family?
Christy Gogel: From our perspective, what we normally run into when working with families and getting them placement is sometimes you run into situations as your child ages whereas they get difficult to lift or difficult just to provide that daily care. So, in those situations we’re able to come in with equipment and staffing and we can do two person lifts or use a hoyer lift or those sorts of things to assist with care and what they need done. So, those types of situations come up often times and that clearly is gonna make a group home a good option.
Shelley Kirk: Are families still allowed to be part of their lives? Even if they’re not living there.
Suzanne Ailstock: Yes, yes. Families can come and visit anytime, and they can take their loved ones’ home for 60 overnights throughout the year.
Shelley Kirk: I spent some time in a group home several years ago, I did a story, and the people you have assisting the clients, your employees, are phenomenal. It takes a special person.
Christy Gogel: It absolutely does. Our motto for group homes has become ‘A Heart Connection’. And that’s what Easterseals brings that’s different than other agencies, at least from our experience and not for profit agency. It allows us to focus on the client and to really provide the best care for them. And that’s what we focus on with every staff person that we hire and bring into the agency as well.
Shelley Kirk: If someone has a loved one who fits this, how do they apply?
Suzanne Ailstock: They just call 812-437-2617 and they would be able to get ahold of Christy or myself for Easterseals.
Shelly Kirk: And you guys can provide them with some more information. And you actually go to their home and you meet with them and talk with them.
Suzanne Ailstock: Absolutely!
Shelley Kirk: And that number will be on our website incase someone wasn’t able to write it down. They do have vacancies, so if you’re interested at all, please seek this out. Thank you all so much for being here and talking about this.
Christy Gogel: Thank you, Shelley.
Suzanne Ailstock: Thank you.
(This story was originally published on Nov. 19, 2019)