My Son Is Moving To A Group Home

Question

Asked by weavegirl

My Son Is Moving To A Group Home

I want to know what you think about my son's move to a therapeutic group home. He is 22, schizoaffective disorder since age 17, and has been living with us. He's tried going to college, and living on his own in an apartment - neither worked out. I want him to know how to live independently and to have more social relationships. My question is whether this is the best thing for him? Will he get worse there, because of the stress of a new environment, new people, etc. In the last 6 months he has gained tremendous insight, and is beginning to get the concept of recovery.

Answer

Hello weavegirl,

I understand your concern about your son living in a group home.

Let me give you some ideas as to why I think a good group home could be an option right now in your son's life.

A group home could be the perfect transitional living arrangement before your son moves into his own apartment.

In the fall of 1988, a year after I came home from the hospital, I moved to a halfway house so that I could set goals and learn to function on my own, with the support of the staff, who were called "coordinators" and were psychology students working towards their degrees.

The key is, to find the best group home for your son's needs at this time.

Insight and self-awareness in my humble belief are the two best traits to have when someone is starting out in recovery. These things will serve your son well as he begins to develop tools and coping skills for living with the schizoaffective.

All told, I spent just under three years in the residential system: first in the halfway house for a year, where I had my own bedroom and shared cooking and cleaning duties with the 16 other residents, and then in an apartment program where I lived with a roommate for a year, and then in supported living, where I lived in an apartment on my own for three months before moving into my own studio near the beach-true independent living.

Today, I live in my own apartment and have done so for 12 years, I have a full-time job with health benefits, and I no longer collect government disability benefits.

So I'm here to say that this is indeed possible.

Most of all, if I were you, I wouldn't rush things, yet I wouldn't expect that residential living necessarily means your son will live in such housing for the rest of his life.

I'm a big fan of people with these diagnoses becoming self-reliant and finding work and living independently to the degree that they can, without relying on the system for the rest of their lives. That said, some people will benefit from life-long housing options that include staff on hand to assist them.

What I'd do is talk with your son and let him know you'll support him while he lives at the group home and that should he want to consider living on his own again, you will support him in that, too.

Stay in contact with your son and tell him often that you love him and will be there for him. By all means, visit him at the group home to get a feel for whether the staff are professional and the house is maintained well and your son's goals and needs in recovery are being addressed. To be a presence in your son's life will show the staff that you care and are on top of things, should it turn out this group home has problems.

Of course, you don't want to be overinvolved and smother your son, either.

Ideally,while your son is at the group home, he will set goals that he can realistically achieve, and once the first goal is obtained, he will work on other goals from there.

Lastly, I suggest your son consider therapy with an empathetic, objective professional.

Also, the main thing is that he needs to have something to do with his time if he's not working or going to school during the day. So I suggest a day program, volunteer work, or if possible a part-time job that falls within the amount he can legally make without jeopardizing his social security disability benefits, if he does collect them.

Right now it's a great time to be in recovery from a mental illness because people diagnosed with schizophrenia or schizoaffective have more options than ever before for living happy, healthy, productive, independent lives.

Sometimes it just takes a different route to get there.

I wish you and your son all the best.

Regards,

cb

Answered by Christina Bruni