It’s so hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Nicky began his non-traditional story. He’s going to be 30 years old in just a couple weeks! That’s impossible for us to believe – me, Cheryl, and my husband Alex, Nicky’s parents.
The model and this story have remained relevant, families are still looking to our planning guide to learn what it took in the hopes of replicating it. Back in 2019 I was actually asked to speak at a conference and provide an update; see the slides from that presentation in the library on this site,
Nicky has had a total of 2 shared living live-in providers in 10 years. He’s had less than 10 total support staff in those same 10 years. That’s pretty unheard of. Obviously it means less costs, less training, less stress for everyone involved.
But the most important benefits have been the security, respect and relationships that have been built in a decade of supports provided with integrity by Nonotuck Resource Associates.
Relationships are the core. The rest follows. On November 4th, 2022, I presented a workshop at the International Shared Living conference called “They said he’s too dangerous to succeed: he showed them how wrong they were.” The slides are also available on the presentation page of this site. In it, I spoke strongly about the nature of Shared Living when done well; the core and critical value of building strong, mutually dependent relationships means that love and caring are at the center – when they are allowed to thrive, so does the quality of care and the outcomes for citizens. Everyone benefits.
I remember learning once from one of my mentors about another simple concept that one of the great thought leaders of our time, Judith Snow, introduced. She said when she is asked her thoughts on nearly any situation involving people with disabilities, she starts with “who benefits?” I have adopted that same practice and it has guided me for many years. So when I think about the housing models and practices of mainstream systems as they are now, especially current group homes and other congregate care settings; and I reflect on the cataclysmic absence of relationship building as a core value, I ask “who benefits?” and find myself answering “no one.” Well, sort of – budgets benefit. Systems benefit.
That’s even worse.
I did use the platform at the SL conference to present my thoughts & some reflections on the benefits of SL as opposed to group home living. I stand true to those ideas, however, I also know that many believe their loved ones need more support than SL can provide. My opinion remains that “if only” every living model applied the principles of love and building relationships, everyone would benefit. These values are applicable to any situation; they are as universal as being human. I hold on to my message and my commitment to spreading this message in my non-traditional delivery (insistent with a sprinkling of swear words).