Many people picture living their late adult life surrounded by loved ones, living in the comfort of their own home, and enjoying a leisurely routine. Community Living London has developed unique supports to accommodate people with disabilities in their late adulthood life, so that they can age comfortably in their home instead of moving into a long-term care facility.

You may recognize Cathie, as we have shared her story about her experience being introduced to Community Living London’s services at the age of two. Cathie is now in her forties and we wanted to share her next chapter as she has recently moved into a home where she can grow old. Cathie has Down syndrome; a condition where extra genetic material causes delays in the way a person mentally and physically develops. Many of our Direct Support Professionals recall caring for Cathie when she was just learning how to walk.

Over the decades, Cathie and her family have benefited from the many services Community Living London has to offer, including: respite, accommodation services, Best Buddies, day programs, specialized one-to-one support and more. Community Living London was there as the supports provided helped Cathie grow into the happy social butterfly she is today.

As most adults do, Cathie moved out of her family’s home and began living an independent life when she was welcomed by her new roommates at one of Community Living London’s 33 shared living homes. Each of our homes provides 24-hour support, 7 days a week to adults with developmental disabilities. Each home is unique, reflecting the diverse needs of the people we support. Some homes are built to accommodate people who experience limited mobility, while other homes are staffed with professionals who have specialized training to provide support to people with significant behavioural challenges. In all cases, people at Community Living London are supported throughout every stage of their life.

One home in particular, was built with the intention of supporting people who were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. This home was established when Community Living London recognized the need to create a safe place with specialized supports for the aging population of people with Down syndrome, who are at a higher risk to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or dementia. In fact, roughly 30% of people with Down syndrome have dementia in their fifties, and 60% of people will be diagnosed in their 60’s. Cathie was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Our Direct Support Professionals are currently supporting six people with Down syndrome living in the home, who have all been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

The diagnosis was not entirely unexpected; however, it was still a difficult time for Cathie and her mother, Deborah. After much contemplation, and with the support of our exceptional Direct Support Professionals, it was decided that the best thing for Cathie would be to move into this very specialized home. Without this home, Cathie and many others would have to move out of the comfort of Community Living London’s care and into a long-term care facility, where they do not know the staff, they are not likely to receive the specialized support for their disability. Cathie is able to continue benefitting from Community Living London’s services, meaning she can continue participating in Community Living London’s day program, where she has built lasting friendships. Another advantage of Cathie moving into this home is that it gives her the freedom to create her own daily routine. The staff understand how important it is to empower Cathie to continue living her best life. They help her structure her day in a way that makes sense to her, understanding this may look different each day.

One aspect that makes this home so unique is the Direct Support Professionals who work there. The staff are not only patient, compassionate, and caring, but they also have specialized training and experience supporting people with Alzheimer’s or dementia combined with a developmental disability. The Direct Support Professionals understand the uniqueness of each person, and provide person centered supports based on each person’s needs, likes and dislikes. As time and the disease progresses, Community Living London’s support staff face the challenge of working with family members and medical professionals to develop an end of life plan. Supporting people through this time and enabling them to remain in their home surrounded by family, staff, and their house mates is an important aspect of the care provided in this unique home.

When it came time for Cathie to move into this home, our Direct Support Professionals wanted to make sure the transition to living at her new home was as smooth as possible. Our staff diligently moved and unpacked Cathie’s items into her new room in a matter of hours, so that when she arrived at her new house all her belongings would be in place. Deborah expressed joy at how the Direct Support Professionals went above and beyond; decorating and painting Cathie’s room to make her feel at home.

Every parent wants to know that their child will live a happy and meaningful life. Deborah feels confident that Cathie will be well cared for at her new home. Cathie’s sister, who lives in British Columbia, maintains a wonderful relationship with her family from afar. Cathie’s sister feels at peace knowing her sister is living a meaningful life surrounded by staff who truly care for her.

Cathie’s new home is beautiful, but like all houses, it needs repairs and renovations. The home has a beautiful yard, but sadly many of the people living in the home cannot enjoy all that it has to offer, because it is not fully accessible. The people living in the home dream of having a sunroom, where they can enjoy the changing seasons and relax. With your help, Community Living London is able to continue improving this specialized home, and provide amenities such as a sunroom, that will have a profound impact on the people living there.

Your donations help us to improve the quality of life of all the people we support, by creating safe and accessible spaces. Please help us to continue creating an environment of inspiration—donate today!

Donate at: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/5832