Why are group homes needed?
Individuals living with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders require an array of services and supports to meet their fluctuating needs. Those living in group homes tend to be the most severe of this high needs group. Functional impairments often make independent living arrangements unsuccessful.
These individuals are especially vulnerable to symptom relapse, medication non-adherence, social isolation, substance abuse, homelessness, and suicide which puts them at greater risk of more costly and restrictive settings, such as, psychiatric hospitals, emergency departments, and jails. Group homes provide a stable environment where individuals can further their independent living skills while managing their psychiatric symptoms.
What can group homes offer?
A person living in a group home shares the house with 4-6 peers, who hopefully will become close friends, know them well, and see them daily. Peers share experiences of mental illness, which often includes hospitalization, difficulty with medications, substance abuse, social isolation and discrimination. Peers in the group home can act as a support to each other. Friends know when others are having a bad day and can encourage them to ask for help from professional supports. Additionally, when people in the house are doing well it is inspiring to the other residents. Most people who live in group homes have extensive histories of hospitalizations and have become accustomed to hospitalization being the course of treatment during periods of stress. When someone in the house has gone 6-months or a year without hospitalization it is inspiring. Other residents of the house start thinking “If they can do it, I can too!” Gradually, residents start spending more days living rather than simply surviving from one hospitalization to the next.
Interventions can be provided at any time of day, any day of the year
Holidays, thunder storms, and restless nights, for example, can be big triggers for a resident. The staff is there during those times and can provide support and redirection in moments of stress, resulting in avoiding crisis. Going through these events together greatly increases the therapeutic rapport that staff and residents can build, generating more confidence and trust in each other.
Small case load
Group homes cannot be licensed for more than 6 beds. This makes it possible for staff to really know residents and understand their unique needs, likes, strengths, and comforts. This is an additional factor that supports therapeutic rapport and builds relationships. It also increases the likelihood of psychiatric decompensation to be identified early and interventions to begin immediately resulting in avoiding the need for more costly services.
Provides the foundation for further rehabilitation efforts
If you are having trouble meeting basic needs it is hard to get well and stay well. Group homes ensure that basic needs are met including stable housing, food and safety. In addition, the homes assist resident in medication compliance. This gives residents even greater opportunity for stability and recovery.