Is Community Inclusion Right for All?

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One of Opengate’s beautiful homes

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When the word “institution” is used, thoughts race back to the Willowbrook scandal and its exposure to the world. No one ever wishes for this type of situation to happen again in respect to housing individuals with disabilities or behavioral problems.

Current language surrounding matters of those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) include “community,” “inclusion,” and “integration.” These ideals are very meaningful and necessary in the dialogue about housing and personal care for individuals with IDD, however, they must be used with a more distinct application.

Moreover, changes have been made in recent years involving regulations about housing for people with IDD, especially attempting not to be isolating or institutional.

Can one be isolated when living within a community?

Isolation isn’t always being alone, it can be feeling alone, even in the confines of a community if those within aren’t interactive, or worse, ignore you. Often a complaint of independently living people with IDD, is that the community they chose to live in isn’t made up of neighbors with shared common ground, therefore making it difficult to create friendly relationships.

Inclusion and integration into communities must be addressed with the individual’s optimal outcome in the forefront. In some cases, placing a person with IDD into an independent living situation does not meet their personal requirements and ideas of community.

Furthermore, inclusion should be within the context of meaningful engagement with those we feel comfortable with and close to. For many individuals, even those who are highly independent, inclusion in a community that presents no common ground can be more isolating than living in housing situations which are intentionally planned.

At agencies like Opengate, we work with each individual, their families, and caretakers to create an atmosphere that best suits their ideals in conjunction with their planned personal outcomes. We strive to ensure that each person has all they need to reach their full potential, no matter what that may be, along with experienced and professional staff to assist them.

Our housing options are intentionally planned to give our residents what they desire as well as engage them in activities both in house and within the communities where they reside.

Opengate Somers campus

The gazebo on the grounds of our Somers, NY location

Who decides where adults with IDD live?

A core issue is who makes the decision to live independently or live in a group setting. We believe that each person, with the input of family members and professionals, should be able to determine where they feel most comfortable and have the best resources for the individual.

An underlying consideration is regulation and funding. As more of the general public is aging, so are those with disabilities. It’s crucial to the population to be able to have options concerning housing, health care, and general well-being. While we must comply with new regulations in respect to these issues, it becomes more and more difficult to fund expansion and maintenance of our available homes, programs and services, and our staffing needs.

To those in our care, we are their community, their safe harbor, their home. We are happy to be their option of choice and we continue to work towards our vision: To be the premier provider of programs for the developmentally disabled in New York’s Hudson Valley, with special focus on those with behavioral issues. We will accomplish this through innovation, responsiveness and the teamwork of all stakeholders.


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