Residential Options for People with Disabilities

by Rhiannon Bailey, Regional Operations Director Bridges of Virginia:

Rhiannon Bailey is the Regional Operations Director of Bridges of Virginia in Roanoke.

Families sometimes face difficult decisions when it comes time to consider community living options for their child with a disability or other loved one with unique needs.  For most of us, growth and maturity to adulthood means moving away from our parents into a life of complete independence and individual decision making.  Although people with disabilities may face different life challenges than the rest of us, in most cases, they also want to live independently from their parents or guardians.  What excites me about how far our society has come in accepting and building a culture of independence is that today it is entirely normal for people with disabilities to desire a life of their own, develop their own individual identity and gain independent living skills in order to become the best version of themselves.

What are the community living options for a person with a disability or another type of unique need that requires residential support?  In the past, we knew those living options to be only state and community institutions or privately-operated group homes for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.  Thankfully, those days have passed and institutions or group congregate settings are closing as we evolve to smaller residential settings where someone with a disability can live either completely alone with some paid residential support, or with 1 to 2 others who share their desire for an independent life with minimal to no restrictions.  Community living options for a person with a disability now means living immersed with everyone, in our cities and neighborhoods, either near or away from other people with disabilities, but also being afforded the same life options that we all have – the ability to live and work where, when and with whomever.  In all the states Bridges serves, it is important to and necessary for us to ensure all people can access community needs such as medical services, recreational activities, meals out, personal care needs and religious services.  From Billings, Montana to Owensboro, Kentucky and points in between, Bridges’ staff ensure clients get into their communities to participate in the appointments and activities that are important to and for them.

When making the decision to begin serving in Virginia for example, Bridges was welcomed by the Department of Behavioral Services and was directed towards the city of Roanoke due to increased need of able providers.  Bridges was aided in facilitating a pathway for many individuals to be able to transition from their current placement to more appropriate settings in the community, where their independence grew, and so has their confidence in their standing in the local community.  Bridges of Virginia has worked to increase independence for those who are in group homes but want to live on their own, who no longer require the support of 24-hour facility care, and those who are seeking to branch out more from their natural support settings to better fulfil their life goals.  Bridges of Virginia is just one of our many success stories that we continue to invest in, working to bring individuals with disabilities closer to their full potential with all the support that they choose to have in their life.

Although a person may still choose to be supported by and live within a community agency group home for people with disabilities, they may also certainly choose a one, two or three bedroom house, duplex or apartment of their own, often shared with roommates of their choosing who have similar interests and goals.  By choosing their own home or that of a Family Home Provider in their desired community, people with disabilities now have the option to control their own lives, live with the people they want and with whom they share things in common, and also near their friends and family.  People supported by Bridges in Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana are now making their own decisions, in their best interests and with regard to what lifestyle choices they find most appealing for their own unique needs.  Supported people at Bridges can furnish and decorate their living space according to their own tastes, have complete freedom to move in and out of their own home and outdoor space for leisure, recreation or privacy and be able to make decisions about who visits them at their home and with regard to time of day and frequency.  Though infrequent, if a supported person requires any type of living restriction of sorts, due to concerns for health, welfare, safety or security, Bridges will review those requests and work with a local Human Rights Committee of individual service team professionals and therapists to approve and implement.

When a person supported by Bridges lives on their own, that also means signing a lease or mortgage documents just as you or I would while also controlling their own financial decisions either independently or through a representative payee.  By maintaining their own financial freedom, supported people have control over paying their own housing and utility bills, shopping on their own or with support, enjoying leisure activities with their friends, family or paid staff and saving extra money for their future.

Bridges is an experienced expert in serving all types of community living arrangements.  Our professionally trained staff can provide up to 24 hours of paid support each day depending on a person’s care plan and personal goals.  We would love to have the opportunity to tell you more about our services and supports.  Whether in Indiana, Kentucky, Virginia, Colorado, Wyoming or Montana, you can find us at, on Facebook @USBridges, Twitter @USBridges, Instagram us_bridges or simply by calling (317) 645-8655.