3 Tips To Prepare For A Life Sharing Partner

A loving, welcoming home can be integral to our mental and physical wellbeing. When you welcome an adult with disabilities as part of a Life Sharing program, you provide this important necessity. Life Sharing is a residential program for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, where they live in a community with a private family that has been licensed and vetted. Many special needs adults seek residential programs like Life Sharing in order to achieve their personal program objectives. Health care providers offer additional support to these individuals and their host families, to help ensure the best experience possible. But how do you get ready to welcome someone in the Life Sharing program? Here are three tips to remember as you prepare your heart and home. #1: Plan Bonding Activities Whether it’s baking cookies, playing a board game, or learning a new skill, it’s important to plan activities that will provide an opportunity for you to bond with your new Life Sharing partner. Keep in mind their interests, limitations and mobility, and plan something that can help you generate a conversation and get to know one another. Just like you, they’ll be nervous about this transition, but by doing an activity you both enjoy, it will serve as an icebreaker for your relationship. Building a bond with your Life Sharing partner is a top priority for the experience to be successful. This new relationship can give you both new experiences you wouldn’t otherwise have. Instead of seeing this as something you are doing, see it as a reciprocal relationship that enables you both to flourish. #2: Prepare Your Community Your Life Sharing partner won’t just be interacting with you, but with your entire community. The community is like an extension of your family, and they’ll need to embrace the experience too. It’s vital that everyone is on the same page about what is happening, your expectations, and the community’s role to play in the experience. It’s important to be open and honest about how things will change, and even the fact that you might be uncertain about those changes. At the same time, it’s important to not perpetuate stereotypes of individuals with disabilities. While being honest about changes, don’t put your Life Sharing partner in a “box” that limits their experience and creates tension. Get to know their capabilities and passions, and plan activities around those skills rather than what you think they can and can’t do. #3: Be Welcoming Individuals with disabilities want to be welcomed and accepted for who they are, and unfortunately that doesn’t always happen. As a Life Sharing partner, you need to show that you believe in them and see their potential. While you bond over activities and interact with the community, ensure that your home is a welcoming environment that they can feel safe in. Whether it’s some place to decompress after an active day or a supportive environment for bad days, your home is their home. Preparing a welcoming environment is key to success. For more information on Life Sharing through Raystown Developmental Services and The ReDCo Group, and to inquire about becoming a host family, contact Pathways of Pennsylvania. Pathways is one of the largest national providers of accessible, outcome-based behavioral and mental health services. Pathways of Pennsylvania has been serving communities in Pennsylvania since 1981, and is comprised of four companies: Children’s Behavioral Health, Inc., Pathways Community Services, LLC, Raystown Developmental Services, Inc., and The ReDCo Group, Inc. We believe every individual has a right to lead a meaningful and positive life, and we are changing lives, one day at a time.