Moving day can be an exciting adventure. For the Hertz family it was a bittersweet moment.
On April 1, 2013, Scott moved into his new home in St. Charles. The home is one of 11 (at the time of writing this, now there are 14) homes that Community Living’s Residential Services provides support to individuals with disabilities to encourage self-sufficiency and self-direction in one’s home and community.
“It was no April Fool’s joke, was it Scott?” Janet, Scott’s mother, said.
His reply was short, “no,” but the smile said a lot more.
“He smiles from ear to ear and it lights up the whole room,” Becky Robinson, Residential Manager, said. “When you see his smile it lightens your heart to see him so happy.”
Scott, who has cerebral palsy, likes music, listening to people talk, car rides and being around his family. As his father, Runi, said, “He likes to participate with the crowd.” From a video Runi showed from a family event, Scott was in the middle of the festivities, as his niece, Serena, and nephew, Ryan, were chasing bubbles. He watched and smiled as they ran around the deck.
His parents miss their son being at home, but they also know the opportunities are greater for Scott where he is currently living. Scott is the youngest of three, and has two sisters, Holly and Brianna, who remain close to their brother.
Runi and Janet bring Scott to their home once a week. But to help Scott feel at home at both places, the Hertz family bought new furniture, similar to the furniture at their home, for Scott’s new bedroom.
“It seems natural having him at home,” Janet said. “He is a big part of our life.”
On top of living in a new home, Scott has enjoyed activities outside the house, including the Adult Recreation Services Drama Club performance of Annie Jr., a football game at the Family Arena and a picnic at 370 Lakeside Park.
He has also been attending Community Living’s Support Services for Adult’s Mahon Center since 2007, which he will continue to attend and volunteer at the St. Peters Art Centre twice a month.
In the fall of 2012, Janet and Runi started talking about Community Living’s Residential Services and began the process. “We knew this was the time, when we were both able,” Runi said. For some this process can take months, sometimes years, but for the Hertz family it all fell into place rather quickly. “Through it all the Hertz family have been appreciative and understanding,” Leann Clement, Director of Residential Services, said. “When the approval happened it was a sad and happy day,” Runi said. “Sad because you were letting him go, but happy to get the process going.”
Community Living’s Residential staff helped with the transition process, by watching him in his natural environment. Scott first got accustomed to the bus ride from the Mahon Center to the house, he ate dinner with the housemates, had a Saturday afternoon visit and eventually had three overnight stays to help acquaint him with his new surroundings before moving in. “The transition process was wonderful,” Janet said. “It was nice to do it gradually. It was not such a traumatic experience, and it became a transition period for the parents too.”
The transition process also helped the current residents to get familiar with the new person. For current residents and staff at the home, they suffered losing a dearly-loved housemate at the end of 2012. “We were a happy house, went through great sadness and now we’re bringing it back to a happy house,” Leann said. “The transition process is important to the success of the situation. It’s not such a shock when the new roommate moves in.”
On top of the staff helping adjust Scott to his surroundings, Becky, had dinner with the Hertz family and watched the routine Runi and Janet had with their son. “This was invaluable information to bring back with me and share with the staff,” Becky said. “The things he was accustomed to during mealtime and bath time can now apply to our routine to make for a smoother transition.”
Scott likes his new house. And, the staff and residents have welcomed Scott. “All of us feel it is our job to provide care and companionship to the residents, and Scott was able to help us fill a void in the house,” Becky said. “With Scott, our house is complete again.”
Update (January 7, 2016): Scott has made himself at home and has made lasting friendships with his housemates. His parents think having Scott move in to his new home has been a wonderful journey for all of them. Runi and Janet continue to make regular visits with Scott, but they also have peace of mind knowing Scott is well cared for and loved when they are not with their son.