When John Heath first moved into a state-operated developmental center Dwight D. Eisenhower was President and William G. Stratton was our governor. For 60 of his 72 years, John lived in institutions including the Lincoln and Jacksonville Developmental Centers. His current roommate at a central Illinois CILA, Chris Derrickson, is younger, at age 54, but also spent most of his life in developmental centers. The state's rebalancing initiative and the closing of Jacksonville Developmental Center have enabled John and Chris and many other formerly institutionalized persons to move into their own homes. Both men are now living in a 4 person CILA operated by Community Alternatives Illinois (CAIL).
CAIL Executive Director Cassidy Spesard says her company provides residential supports and services to individuals with developmental disabilities in group homes. "There are numerous benefits to living in a community setting. You have your own bedroom, your own space and your own home." Spesard also says community programs can improve residents health and give them more opportunities to socialize in the community.
Spesard says when Chris first came to the CILA in November 2012, he wasn't used to having a home. Now he enjoys watching basketball on TV and listening to music. "He's really come out of his shell." Chris' sister and guardian says they wish they would have known more about CILAs and the family is glad he is happy in his new home.
John's guardian who lives nearby is also pleased with the new home. After six decades in institutions, John is getting used to the new arrangement and Spesard says it is going very well. "John is really laid back. He doesn't do as much but loves going to the park and out to eat. He has developed a bond with the staff, because we have a steady staff."
Spesard says the quality of care is as good if not better than an SODC. CAIL homes have two staff on duty all the time at most homes. They receive 120 hours of IDHS training, 80 hours of on-the-job-training and 40 hours of classroom. The parent company ResCare and CAIL provide an additional 20 hours of training so staff are fully trained before they go to work. "They get the utmost care that they would get in an SODC, if not more, because the ratio is two to four,"
Despite their severe disabilities, John and Chris have put years of living in institutions behind them and are now thriving in the community.