Independence Again, Moving Out

By Amber Audrain

As a Disability Advocate (DA) with Southwest Center for Independent Living (SCIL), one of the most rewarding services we provide is helping individuals with disabilities transition out of nursing homes and back into the community. Recently, Barbara, a Springfield consumer of SCIL made that change with a Missouri program called Money Follows the Person (MFP).

“I love it. I have a sense of independence again and new joy,” said Barbara. She didn’t plan on living in the nursing home, especially for two years. At first she was told she would be there a few days for monitoring, receive rehabilitation and then be released to go back home. However, as time passed, her doctor found reasons to keep her in the facility. The reality became clear that Barbara had a lot of hard work ahead of her.

“It was dehumanizing. I found myself sinking into depression and no matter how much medication they prescribed, it couldn’t fix it,” said Barbara. She shared that “it crushes my soul to think about what I went through there. I didn’t need antidepressants.I needed my own home and my own life.”

As Barbara learned, living in a nursing home becomes a new mode of life which includes controlled and sometimes volatile living conditions. Imagine what it must be like to live day after day seeing no hope of freedom. Many of us take for granted that we can control our own lives.

Once Barbara contacted SCIL, she worked with a DA who prepared her to achieve her goal of moving back into the community.

The DA advocated on her behalf with the nursing home staff, doctors and state agencies and Barbara learned how to advocate for herself by researching household furnishings, apartments and to get her beloved pet back.

Despite six months of hard work with SCIL, Barbara had no real hope of leaving the nursing home because so much time had passed.

Finally, the good news arrived; Barbara received approval for the MFP program and got her chance to reclaim her life. SCIL assisted Barbara with the remaining steps in finding adequate housing, putting personal care into place, and making the move.

The day she moved to her new home her overall outlook on life really changed. No longer seeing a life of imprisonment, Barbara now has her life to live again.

For more information visit the Southwest Center for Independent Living transitions and de-institutionalization page.