Life Sharing

Family Living Homes  (55 Pa. Code Chapter 6500)

Family Living Homes are different than other licensed Residential Habilitation homes as these settings provide for life-sharing arrangements. Individuals live with a host family and are encouraged to become contributing members of the family unit.  Family living arrangements are chosen by individuals and families in conjunction with host families and in accordance with individual’s needs.  Licensed Family Living Homes are limited to homes in which one or two individuals with intellectual disabilities reside with a host family. Relatives, Legal Guardians and Legally Responsible Individuals, and their Spouses, (including spouses of the individual) may not be the host family.  The individuals with intellectual disabilities may not be family members or relatives of family members of the host family. However, individuals with intellectual disabilities who receive services in a family living home may be related to each other.

[There is currently (as of Fiscal Year 2011-2012) a service definition for Unlicensed Family Living, which was created specifically for individuals who receive Person Family Directed Support Waiver.  This is for individuals that do not require a Licensed Home.  WLS offers this service.  It is uncertain if this will remain a service definition.]

Community Homes for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilitites

A licensed community home is a home licensed under 55 Pa. Code Chapter 6400 where Residential Habilitation Services are provided to individuals with intellectual disabilities.  A community home is defined as “A building or separate dwelling unit in which residential care is provided to one or more individuals with intellectual disabilities…..”.

Whole Life Services philosophy in regards to residential placements

We, as well as the State of Pennsylvania, prefer to place individuals in Family Living Homes.  We encourage families to build a relationship with a potential Family Living Provider.  We suggest the individual receive Respite Care with the potential provider over time so that they feel comfortable with the person and the home.   We stress that Family Living Placements, unlike foster care for children, is not temporary.  It is meant to provide a home life for the individual for as long possible (meaning as long as it remains successful).

When Whole Life Services Inc. opened in 2001, we did not have plans to have any Community Homes.  The founders believed that  we should provide only Family Living.  Over time our view has changed.  This is partly because we have encountered families that do not embrace Family Living.  Some families feel that their loved one will receive better care in a community home from Residential Support Professionals.  They have stated that they know how difficult it can be to support a person with special needs, and do not feel comfortable with their adult loved one moving in with a family.  We too, have experienced that some individuals need a community home, as there is more support, and the ability to create a more structured environment.  When a person with great need is placed in a Family Living Home, the family can suffer difficulty with burn out.  If the individual’s needs are great, and the family becomes unable to care for them, they may be moved to new Family Living Home.  In a community home, there is rotating staff who work in shifts.  The staff person coming on duty is fresh and prepared to meet the individual’s needs.  Each Individual’s Support Team must determine in their team meetings if the individual will function better if they were to change Family Living Homes as needed, or if they prefer they settle in to one community home and stay there, though staff may change.

Whole Life Services Inc. will work hard to find a Family Living Home conducive to each person’s needs.  We are committed to any community home we develop providing quality services by giving the Residential Support Professionals the training and support they need to limit turn over.  And, we are committed to making a community home Person-Centered, and respectful to the needs of the those who live there.  To be truly a Person-Centered agency we have learned that we must provide options and choices, and then empower each person’s Individual Support Team the ability to make decisions