This week, Bridges US is eager to present you with the topic of Shared Living. On June 27th, The Intellectual & Developmental Disabilities Task Force met to discuss a variety of topics. During this meeting, Jonathan Burlison (CEO of Bridges US) presented a white paper on Shared Living to elevate Indiana’s current model. How can Hoosiers elevate this service model for people with disabilities over the next ten years?
 
What is Shared Living?
 
Shared Living is a long-term living commitment between two people. In Indiana, this model is called Structured Family Care Giving. The two individuals living together include a qualified caregiver and a person with an intellectual or developmental disability. Not only do these people live together, but they share meaningful life experiences and connections with one another. A quote from the white paper states:
 
“For the person with a disability, stability and permanence are additional benefits. Living in a home, seeing the same people every day, and enjoying predictable holiday rituals provide a constancy that is difficult to sustain in a group home or residential setting.”
 
Shared Living is designed to support and enrich the lives of those with disabilities to live a community-based life. It is a person-centered option aiming to give individuals connection and freedom in their life. Shared living is a residential program; however, it is not in a facility or a group setting. This service is provided by independent contractors who are trained to provide care and support. These contractors come from all walks of life and are former nurses, social workers, and even direct support staff.
 
The Current Model: Structured Family Caregiving
 
So, why do less than 300 Hoosiers use this service when there are so many potential benefits? The reason is because Indiana’s current model of Structured Family Caregiving needs updating. As stated in the white paper, “The program is poorly structured, inadequately reimbursed and underutilized by people with disabilities compared to other states.” Indiana does have the framework of a successful Shared Living model. By implementing this white paper, we are elevating the current model. As stated in the white paper:
 
“These implementations will make the service a more desirable and viable option for individuals receiving waiver services as well as approved provider agencies. Shared Living has many benefits as it is a person-centered option that is fostered on independence, growth, and connection.”
 
Jonathan Burlison says, “As a task force, we aimed to enhance Structured Family Caregiving as a service that Hoosiers with intellectual disabilities will get more choice and control in their lives. The 1102 is going to accomplish this with the changes we are going to apply to the service.”
 
Each week, Bridges is excited to share the Taskforce’s progress and initiatives for the future of services. For additional information, recordings of meetings, and how you can attend, please visit https://www.in.gov/fssa/ddrs/5455.htm.