With the City of Philadelphia spearheading the transformation of large residential group homes into more independent living situations for persons living with behavioral health issues, JEVS Human Services is pleased to announce the successful transition of 18 former residents of the Hassel Residence to independent apartment-living circumstances.

Coming as part of a national trend to break down the inherent segregation of facility-based programs, this move allows for the support of each individual in the pursuit of their own path into the community, while receiving the proper supports to grow older within the comfort of their own homes.

“The Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) has been guiding this residential transformation in larger facilities, moving people from group situations into independent living, and then wrapping supports and services around them while in independent living,” said Clara Thompson, senior executive director of Community Living and Home Supports at JEVS. “While we had a smaller number of residents at Hassel, the City brought us on board with their transformation planning, and with their guidance, we came up with a workable plan with the least disruption to the lives of our individuals.”

JEVS’ Hassel Residence, which had been in existence for more than 24 years, was sold in January 2016. Residents, who are primarily over the age of 60 years old, began moving to either a small community residential rehabilitation facility home in Germantown or independent living with their own apartment or with a roommate. Leases are in the names of the individuals, making them eligible for all subsidies and/or waivers that their age and needs would dictate.

“At Hassel, we delivered three key components to residents: wellness, mobile psychiatric rehabilitation services and supports navigation,” said Thompson. “What that means is that we’ll be providing skill building (with one-to-one counseling) and peer support, in addition to helping people connect with all the different services they might be eligible for, working with the landlords on any tenant issues, and helping them focus on all the various health needs they may have–whether medical, social, recreational and more.”

A side benefit of this has been even more personal interaction between former Hassel residents and their families. “We engaged the natural families in the moving process, and it’s been wonderful,” said Thompson. “It was not always private when a family would come visit someone at Hassel, and now we have families who say they really enjoy visiting their relative in their own apartment.”

Now that the moving process is complete, JEVS staff and city officials can use the move as a learning experience for other potential transformations.

“Other programs might have had an elderly person here or there, but it wasn’t their specialty,” said Thompson. “Transitioning those who have concerns related to aging and waivers added a new dimension to the overall goal of making sure individuals receive high quality services and are able to maintain and promote as much community integration and independence as possible, and I like to think we’ve succeeded at that.”

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