October 8th, 2013, 5:16 pm, BY AMY FLOWERS UMBLE / THE FREE LANCE–STAR
For parents of adult children with disabilities, weddings and vacations often require strategic planning similar to invading Normandy.
When your child is full-grown but requires ’round-the-clock care, you can’t just call the teenager down the street when you need to get away. And if taking a scheduled vacation is tricky, an emergency is formidable. Parents live in fear of a sudden illness, a surgery or a death in the family.
But a new respite home in Stafford County could ease some of that burden, providing parents with a place for their adult children to stay when caregivers need a break for any reason.
The respite home, a renovated house in the Kendallwood East subdivision, began as a vision of local philanthropist Doris Buffett, who partnered with the Rappahannock Area Community Services Board to create the center.
Buffett’s Sunshine Lady Foundation and RACSB each put $1 million toward the costs of buying and renovating the home, said Michelle Wagaman, RACSB spokeswoman.
The home, originally a three-bedroom ranch, grew to include six bedrooms, a large dining room, a kitchen, two handicapped-accessible bathrooms, a laundry room, a community room and an office.
Program supervisor Lacey Fisher decorated the home in soothing shades of blue, green and tan. Each bedroom has the theme of a vacation destination, and Fisher said they want the respite home to be a break for parents—and a mini-vacation for the adults with intellectual disabilities who stay there.
RACSB staff anticipate most respite clients will have a Medicaid waiver, which pays for overnight respite hours. But there is some money in the budget for those who don’t have a waiver.
The home is the only overnight respite center for adults with intellectual disabilities in the area—and even for families willing to drive, there are few options in Washington, Richmond and Charlottesville.
The home provides 24-hour support for the clients who stay there—and each person can stay for up to 15 days at a time.
So far, the visits have been much shorter, Fisher said. Some of the clients have never stayed somewhere away from their parents before, and so they have been slowly settling into the respite home. Some try one overnight visit first; others stay just a few hours.
“With a lot of them, we need to take baby steps,” Fisher said.
Debbie Draper was unsure of how her son, Kyle, would feel about spending the night in a respite home. So she and her husband brought Kyle for a tour of the home last month.
“When he was 6 or 7, it was OK to ask someone to watch him overnight,” Draper said. “But it’s a little different to have someone take care of a 27-year old. And we’re getting older; we may need surgery or a hospital stay at some point.”
Fisher said that while the respite home could accommodate families in a crisis, she wants new clients to first have a planned overnight stay. She needs to first assess the client and to determine how to best serve them—for example, if they need help bathing or if they take their medicine crushed in food.
“Some families say, ‘Well, I don’t need that now,’ and they wait,” Fisher said. “But we want to be prepared.”
Erin Faulconer brought her daughter Sarah to visit the new home, too. Faulconer and her daughter are rarely separated overnight—and when they are, a relative usually takes care of Sarah, 24, who has Rett syndrome.
But the respite home could provide a break from the day-to-day tasks of taking care of an adult with significant disabilities.
“The addition of this new, local program will afford caregivers with the opportunity to tend to other commitments while knowing their loved one with an intellectual disability is being successfully supported,” RACSB Director Ron Branscome said.
The Myers Drive Respite Home will hold an open house on Thursday.
Amy Flowers Umble: 540/735-1973
Link to the original article: http://news.fredericksburg.com/newsdesk/2013/10/08/home-offers-a-break-for-parents-2/