The residential living program offered by Paladin, Inc., offers persons with disabilities the opportunity to live as independently as possible and experience meaningful lives as they contribute to making their communities a better place.
The program is specifically for individuals who have a disability and a desire to live on their own. It serves those as early as 18 years old, but most individuals in the program now are between ages 22-80.
“Residential living is a 24/7 operation. We have so many success stories because our services are so impactful. We have the opportunity to really give back to our participants, and support them in living a meaningful life,” said Kelsey Gant, Director of Paladin Residential Services.
To become involved with the program, individuals must meet with the local Bureau of Developmental Disability Services office in Gary or South Bend for an assessment. They discuss the services the person needs or wants, and helps the individual apply for the Medicaid Waiver (not traditional Medicaid insurance) or Supported Group Living Services. The Bureau then will review and determine the appropriate levels of support.
Paladin serves 80 people in 23 homes in La Porte County, and 8 participants in 3 houses in Lake County.
Participants are supported by a comprehensive support team that can include behaviorists, families, advocates, case managers, music therapists, counselors—anyone who adds value to the individual’s life and assists them with their decisions, goals, and life journey.
“Every individual has a team of their own. They talk about anything that is upcoming, what they want to do. They discuss their strengths, and explain where they need support,” Gant said. “Whether they want to learn something new, find a job, or plan a trip to the Smoky Mountains - the individuals really drive their team and look to us for guidance.”
The team helps decide how to create and initiate the steps for the individual’s goal. They make suggestions based upon the participant’s living style, and level of structure, flexibility, and hands-on support they will need.
“Some will need help with minor day-to-day tasks like budgeting, grocery shopping, or transportation,” Gant said. “Others need more support like daily living assistance, cooking, and personal care.”
Jeff Rupe, Assistant Director of Residential Services for Paladin, said that ultimately, participants in the program come together to openly discuss their lives with their team, sharing their life ambitions and wishes for taking part in fun activities and exploring their community.
“A lot of our individuals have jobs or are seeking one. We strive for them to get a job in the community and they take so much pride in it when it happens. It’s an exciting experience because they have that choice and capability,” Rupe said.
“Just recently we had a group of individuals spend the weekend in Chicago. Last year one of our individuals went on a trip to Disney. We have a married couple in our program who have been to Hawaii, and other places too,” Gant said. “They’ve traveled more than me!”
Rupe and Gant each stressed the importance of the program. Without services such as the residential living program, individuals with disabilities may end up in more restrictive living environments that aren’t enhancing their capabilities, encouraging their independence, and recognizing and encouraging their contributions to the community.
“We want to make sure they reach their full independence and potential,” Rupe said.
“We want to give them the same opportunities that we have,” Gant continued. “That’s what we aim to do at the end of the day.”
Rupe is thankful for the Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) at Paladin, noting their substantial amount of generosity, compassion, and dedication.
“Without our DSPs, we wouldn't be where we are today, and our participants wouldn't be where they are either. We are always looking for people to join our team - people who want to make a difference in the lives of others.”Click here for opportunities that are available at Paladin. For more information regarding all of Paladin’s services, please visit their website here.