Life Sharing: How it Works and Benefits Adults with Disabilities

Life Sharing: How it Works and Benefits Adults with Disabilities

Previously, I wrote about the benefits of assisted living for those with physical and intellectual disabilities. There are different options, including residential facilities and group homes, but there’s also another living option available: life sharing.

When I first heard of life sharing, I had some questions. What is it? What does it entail? Who is it available to? What are the benefits? How much does it cost? How does the process work?

After some research taught me more about it and gave me my answers.

Life sharing is similar to assisted living in the sense that it’s open to young adults with a physical or intellectual disability. It’s an option that connects you with families in your community who want to share their homes with individuals with disabilities. Together, you’ll work with your support team to achieve your personal goals.

Most host families have one individual living with them, but some are licensed for more than one consumer. Host families typically have a caregiver with years of human services and working with individuals with disabilities. This gives them the necessary qualifications to host individuals.

Life sharing agencies recruit families through many different means. They can use provider referrals, local newspapers, and speaking engagements at social clubs, schools, and churches to find qualifying families. They interview families and do a home check, ensuring compliance with state and home safety standards. Many organizations require annual training for their host families. Host families are given ongoing in-home training, monthly monitoring and support meetings, and 24-hour support in the case of an emergency.

If you have the funding, a consolidated waiver, you can begin the process of life sharing. You’ll meet with your independent supports coordinator, and go over the living options available to you, and if you choose life sharing, they’ll put a request in your Individual Support Plan (ISP). Once that goes through, they’ll work with local county offices to get in touch with provider agencies. From there, they’ll have the opportunity to meet with host families. Families can vary in type, with both single and two parent households, parents with children, and “empty nesters”.

Once families are chosen, you and your team will discuss your long-term goals. While life sharing can be a lifelong process, it doesn’t always have to be. It can be similar to a transitional program, where you get the care and develop the skills you need, and you can choose another living option once your goals are met.

Life sharing allows both you and your host family to develop life-long bonds, learn from and support each other, and allows you to be more involved in your community. Biological family is encouraged to be a part of the process, as hosts are meant to be considered an extended part of an individual’s family dynamic.

It’s a different living option from assisted living facilities and can be a great option for those who prefer smaller environments where they can develop close-knit relationships with their caregivers. They’re paid for with consolidated waivers, which are designed to help individuals with disabilities live more independently, so this option can be affordable as well. Waiver amounts are based on the needs of the individual, which are determined during the planning process and outlined in their ISP.

While life sharing isn’t an option I’d pursue for myself, it’s something I think can be beneficial for those who need long-term care in a smaller environment. Not only will you develop life-long relationships and become part of a family, you’ll have a sense of stability. I also think it’s a great option for those who want to become host families, as it gives you the opportunity to help make a difference in someone’s life.

If you’re an individual who feels life sharing is the option for you and you have the consolidated waiver, talk to your supports coordinator about finding a provider and starting the process. If you’re a family looking to host an individual, reach out local agencies in your county.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *