Friendship House Offers a New Kind of Life for Disabled AdultsPermanent and debilitating injuries change lives instantly. When injuries occur during birth, young families must adjust to providing care for their disabled child. When injuries occur later in life, families must decide how to meet the new needs of their loved one. Most family’s worry about the type of future their loved one can have; thousands of individuals are on waiting lists for housing and other kinds of support. The vast majority of the nearly 21,000 people with developmental or intellectual disabilities in the Nashville area live at home.

Good news and better progress

Fortunately, there are good people working hard to change the status quo. The Tennessee Housing and Development Agency and the Metropolitan Development and Housing Authority together funded a long-term project to provide affordable housing for students and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities several years ago. The first residential complex of adjoined apartments opened last February; by summer, the small community was full. Three residents with disabilities and eight without have spent the last year learning and living together.

The Tennessean reported:

“Through the community, those with disabilities learn to live interdependently. They develop friendships with typical students, grilling bratwurst together, going to see ‘Captain America’ at the movie theater and playing chess. The university students learn what daily life looks like for those with a disability, dispelling misconceptions and gaining understanding. As neighbors, they personally encounter each other’s challenges — like what to do if the lights go out — and victories like getting a new job. The hope is, when they graduate and leave Friendship House, they will move on as advocates for the disabled community and agents for social change.”

The success of Friendship House has prompted the Nashville Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Housing Group to begin fundraising for a 20-resident complex connected to Friendship House by a walking path. These types of integrated communities are gaining traction; Massachusetts, New Mexico, and Texas are also experimenting with low-cost alternatives to group homes. While the format of these integrated living projects is different every time, they have one thing in common; they are universally successful in providing a higher quality of life for the disabled.

A better option

These programs focus on providing opportunities for disabled adults who “age out” of government-assisted care. Without projects like Friendship House, those suffering the lifelong effects of conditions like cerebral palsy and traumatic brain injury are forced to choose between remaining with family or entering a group home, two scenarios that have tremendous drawbacks. These programs finally provide a third choice; a chance at a normal life in a real community.

If your loved one suffered an injury at the hands of another, finding and funding proper medical care and ongoing therapy can be a daunting task. The experienced and compassionate Nashville birth injury attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm can evaluate your case and help get you the compensation you need. Call 615.246.5549, visit our offices in Nashville, Gallatin, or Knoxville, or contact us today for a free consultation.