02 Aug Life Sharing: 3 Helpful Pieces Of Advice For Host Families
Life Sharing is a beautiful way to create an inclusive community, where individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities share your home and become a part of your life. By welcoming a Life Sharing companion into your family, you’re providing a stable environment for them to grow and learn.
Life Sharing offers a unique opportunity to share responsibilities, successes, and challenges that occur in the course of normal day-to-day family life. The companions and their host families receive support from health care providers and coordinators, so they can have the best experience possible.
While Life Sharing is a wonderful experience, it can be a challenge to adjust to the new routine. Here are some helpful pieces of advice for new host families.
#1: Be Patient
A new routine means new challenges to overcome, and having patience is the key to conquering the bumpy road of change. Getting frustrated won’t help anyone. It could make your Life Sharing companion feel uncomfortable, or even unaccepted. If you remain patient during this time of transition, you’ll show your Life Sharing companion that they are a welcome addition to the family.
It takes time and energy—just like anything worth accomplishing—but it will be worthwhile once you’re through the awkward stages.
#2: Find Common Ground
Nothing will help build a relationship with your Life Sharing companion more than finding common ground. Learn about each other. Find a common interest, develop a new hobby, or share your favorite activities. The foundation of your relationship can be built on commonality, rather than differences.
Listen to your Life Sharing companion on what they love to do, and what they’re limits might be. They’ll be happy to share who they are, and will reciprocate the interest you are taking in them. Just like you, they’ll be nervous about this transition, but by spending quality time together, your friendship will grow. This quality time will enable it to bloom in so many ways.
#3: Your Community Is Your Support
When the challenges seem overwhelming, your community will be there to support you and your Life Sharing companion. Life Sharing is an amazing way to help someone have the family and community they’ve been seeking, but with that comes great responsibility. That can be stressful. And when you feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders, your community can help you bear it. Whether it’s joining in a celebration or simply helping you prep dinner, members of your community can support you in the challenges that can arise during this unique experience.
Your community is there in the good and bad, and can provide a unique opportunity for your Life Sharing experience. Bridging the community and your Life Sharing companion will provide a stable environment for them to develop new social and developmental skills. You can’t do everything, but the community can help your Life Sharing companion be exposed to a variety of experiences that can help them find new things they love. You and your community can make a positive impact on someone for life.
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.